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News @ PSU

News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Family makes college success a group effort

You may have heard of nontraditional students going back to college – but how about a nontraditional family?

Tom Goff, 26, decided to go back to school at Pittsburg State University to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. He’s now a pre-med senior. His wife Ashley, with whom Goff has two children, decided to follow suit. She’s now a sophomore in nursing.

Following his son’s example, Thomas F. Goff, Tom’s father, decided he wanted to go pre-med, too. Now he’s a sophomore. Then Goff’s cousin Aaron decided to join up. Finally, Goff’s aunt and uncle, Julie and J.D. Dryden, decided they wanted to come, too.

So what drove this family, all six of them, back to college at the same time?

“Tommy and Ashley have always been the inspiration,” said Julie Dryden, who is undeclared.

The Drydens, who just had their seventh child, didn’t think it was possible to go back to college while raising a family. They said Tom and Ashley’s example proved them wrong.

“I had worked 11 years as a cashier and at SKIL (Southeast Kansas Independent Living) when (Tom and Ashley) showed it could happen for people that have families,” Julie said.

Almost all of the family had a story to tell about applying for a job and being rejected because they had no college degree.

“I’m the oddball,” said the elder Tom, who worked as a truck driver before attending PSU. “I walked away from $22 an hour to come back to school.” But he said it will be worth it once he’s working at a job that doesn’t require as much physical labor as his old one.

The family can often be found hanging out in one of the corner booths in Gorilla Crossing, where they chat, play cards, and chide each other as only family members can do.

“Tom’s the cornerstone in all this,” said Julie.

“Does that mean I can get away with calling you a block head?” chimes in J.D.

Jokes aside, the family is a tight-knit unit – tighter, they said, than ever before.

“If there’s anything that happens, we are there for each other,” said Ashley.

The Goffs and Drydens get together almost every night to cook out and help each other study. Every member of the family said it was intimidating to come back to school as a nontraditional student, but also said their goals are worth whatever troubles come their way.

“If we don’t do this for our kids and show them that getting through college is possible, they’re going to be like, ‘I don’t know if I can do it,’” said Ashley.

J.D. said his example is already inspiring his children. His oldest son had previously shown no interest in continuing his education past high school. Since J.D. went back to school, his son’s grades have gone from C’s to A’s and he’s decided to go to college.

With all of them going to school at once, the Goffs and Drydens are confident they will succeed at Pittsburg State.

“We’ll all be there for each other in our downfalls,” said Ashley. J.D. agreed, “The best thing about this is the support we give to each other.”

In photo: The Goff and Dryden families take a break between classes.

---Pitt State---