Winter 2011 Stories
Father-Son Student Duo
Find a Rich Learning Environment
By Diana Carlson
Jim Dunivan ‘10 and his son Casey were looking for a way to complete their bachelor degrees while managing full-time jobs. Casey, who graduated high school with his associate’s degree through Running Start, helped to motivate his father to return to school. They both enrolled in the Evening and Weekend Studies program Work and the Human Condition for their first experience at Evergreen.
“We were able to talk outside of class,” Casey adds. “We came here from different educational backgrounds so being able to come here and take a program together was pretty phenomenal.”
A human resources planning and project manager with the Washington State Department of Corrections, Jim is focusing his education on social science, business organizational development and leadership. He hopes his degree will lead to increased responsibilities at work and a promotion. “Working full-time, you don’t want to take on a full-time credit load. The 8- and 12-credit Evening and Weekend Studies programs work really well for that,” he says. “They’re set up just perfectly, actually. You get off work and come to class.”
Jim also has his eyes on obtaining a master’s degree in Evergreen’s Public Administration program after completing his undergraduate studies. “The integrative approach has just been fascinating for me,” he says. “It’s an excellent learning environment.”
Evening and Weekend Studies classes are typically a mix of traditional college-age students and returning adults, making for a rich intergenerational experience. “I’m continually impressed with these young folks, how hard they work, and how serious they are about their learning. They motivate me. I love it,” says Jim, adding that his younger classmates appreciate his experience and perspective.
Casey, 21, is acting operations manager at ACS Communications. He hopes his bachelor’s degree will lead to a higher-level management position with his employer, and eventually a law degree. “My main focus is history, critical reasoning and business,” he notes.
As a traditional college-age student, Casey, too, has benefited from the variety of student ages and backgrounds in EWS programs. “Whatever your background, learning style or perspective, EWS faculty find a way to bring everyone together,” he says of the emphasis on collaborative, intergenerational learning. “There’s definitely a lot I have learned from my dad and other older students. Having older people here with more experience really does enrich the whole educational experience.”
Susan Preciso, long-time EWS literature faculty, worked with both Dunivans in the program. “Teaching to an inter-generational class of students has a kind of vitality that I don’t get if all the students are nineteen, or probably if all the students are thirty or forty,” she says. “People come with different experiences, and they challenge each other.”
Both father and son Dunivan believe in the interdisciplinary approach to learning offered in Evening and Weekend Studies. “The safe learning environment is key,” Jim says. “No matter what your learning style, you’re going to figure it out here.” Diana Carlson is a returning student in her junior year at Evergreen interested in pursuing literature, philosophy and writing.