A family affair
Sophie '15, Julia '16 and Olivia Tomeo '13
Posted: May 13, 2013
By Matt Hughes
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Not long after his first daughter Olivia was born, Jim Tomeo '80 joked with his college buddy Bob Esernio '80, whose wife had also recently given birth to a child. "These kids are going to Bucknell," Jim recalls saying.
Some two decades and two daughters later, Jim's jest has come true in a big way. Olivia is preparing to graduate from Bucknell this weekend, and Jim's two younger daughters are enrolled — Sophie is a sophomore and Julia is a first-year student. Esernio also sent two children to Bucknell, Robert, also graduating this weekend, and Jacklyn '15.
And the Tomeos haven't stopped yet. They recently added a fifth Bucknellian to the family. In April, Dara Tomeo joined her husband on the Bucknell University Parents Board, an advisory committee of approximately 70 parents seeking to enhance the educational and residential experience of students. "We consider her an honorary Bucknellian now," Jim said.
The growth of the Tomeo's Bucknell family wasn't something Jim and Dara forced, his daughters said. While the sisters remembered their father's passion for his alma mater and childhood visits to campus for Bison basketball games, each found her way here individually, and for different reasons.
"When we heard the name Bucknell we'd always think, 'That's Dad's school,' but he never pressured us to go here," said Julia.
All three sisters sought a smaller school with a strong liberal arts core. Olivia found her passion in Bucknell's animal behavior program, which allowed her to pursue research as an undergraduate while double majoring in Spanish. She discovered previously unknown qualities of self-recognition among squirrel monkeys through undergraduate research, and hopes to continue that work as a professional research assistant.
Sophie found an interdisciplinary math and economics program where she could build close relationships with her professors. Julia wanted to continue her lacrosse career at a school where she would be a student first and an athlete second.
"I think it's more personal," Olivia said. "You have small class sizes. You can walk around campus and see people you know."
While the three sisters have shared experiences — Olivia and Sophia are both Sustainability Ambassadors for Dining Services and members of Delta Gamma sorority, and all three lived in the Environmental Residential College, are Reunion Ambassadors, and are taking a religion course together — each said she has sought to cut her own path at Bucknell, distinct from those of her sisters and father. Olivia said it's been interesting to do so in the same place where her father found his way.
"It's like time traveling," she said.
Jim knows that Olivia's relationship with Bucknell will not end with Commencement. It will continue for a lifetime, and her work here benefits not only herself but the University as well.
"She'll now be a spokesperson for all things Bucknell and all the good it's done," Jim said.
Olivia and her siblings say they plan to continue their relationship with the University well into the future.
"I definitely want to come back when I'm older, to bring my kids here," Sophie said. "I know that I'll want to give back to Bucknell after I graduate, because it's given our family so much."
Bucknell University's 163rd Commencement celebration will take place on Sunday, May 19, beginning at 10 a.m. Bucknell alumnus and United States Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati will deliver the keynote address. For those unable to attend, the ceremony will be live streamed. The ceremony will also be shown in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts and Trout Auditorium in the Vaughan Literature Building. For a complete schedule of commencement events, registration and general information, visit Commencement 2013.
Barring heavy rain or severe weather, the Commencement ceremony will be held on the Academic Quad; guests should dress accordingly. In the event inclement weather prompts a decision to hold the ceremony indoors, an alert will be emailed to the campus community and posted to the University's homepage and social media channels. || Follow BucknellU on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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