When Gary Young first enrolled in the online MBA program at NNU in 2008, he didn’t realize that he and his daughter JJ would end up sharing a graduation day in spring 2012. But, as part of a long line of NNU graduates in his wife’s family, perhaps he should have guessed it. For the Bryson/Young family, NNU has always been a family affair.
The Bryson family legacy began at NNU in the 1920s with Cyrus Virgil Bryson and has continued down through his son Carl Bryson in the 1950s, his grandchildren Phil Bryson and Jana (Bryson) Young in the 1980s, and now his great-grandchildren Lacey Engle and JJ Young.
For Young, his own journey to NNU came after several decades of interacting with the NNU community by marrying into the Bryson family. He first visited the campus during his senior year at Portland State University when he came to see his soon-to-be wife Jana while they were dating.
“I visited NNU several times that year and became rather jealous of the small college atmosphere that was such a huge change from PSU,” Young said.
Thirty years and three daughters later, the Youngs are continuing the Bryson family tradition at NNU. This time, Jana is cheering on her husband, as he’s working toward his MBA at NNU.
“Jana has been very supportive of this whole process,” Young said. “She has patiently put up with my hiding with books and my laptop and muttering about assignments. The fact that we will both have degrees from NNU is a pretty cool thing.”
Two of their three daughters are also NNU alumni. Their oldest daughter Lacey graduated from NNU with a mathematics degree in 2008 and married 2009 NNU graduate David Engle. The Young’s middle daughter JJ is completing her senior year of study for a bachelor’s degree in social work and plans to graduate from NNU the same day her dad graduates with his MBA.
She said that throughout their four years of studying, she and her dad helped cheer each other on toward graduation.
“There have been times when one of us would get frustrated or tired of homework, and we would remind each other that we had to walk together,” Young expressed. “It was a great motivator for when times got tough.”
Both Young’s said that although their individual academic programs are unique to their interests and stages of life, it’s been fun to talk about their studies together.
“It’s been interesting to compare notes because we’re in two very different programs–business and social work, graduate and undergraduate–and I’m on campus while he’s online,” said JJ. “The fact that we are both racing to the finish line is the best part,” Young stated. Grandparents, dads, sisters: We’re all NNU
When Young first began her college selection process in high school, she wasn’t overly excited about becoming part of the Bryson family tradition at NNU. In fact, she said that at first her family’s deep roots with NNU were actually a deterrent to her desire to attend the University.
“The expectation from people that I would go upset me, and I was determined for a while not to go to NNU,” Young said. “But God distinctly told me to go to NNU. As with many things, I don’t know why God has asked me to do them, but when I do, I don’t regret my decisions.” Young shared that watching her go through that decision-making process was just the beginning of her growth at NNU.
“JJ continues to display a strong Christian faith,” her dad said. “She readily shares the story of how she didn’t want to go to NNU, but God had other ideas; and she has come to see that God rarely loses arguments.”