University graduates: My parents finish college #atozchallenge2024

U is for University graduates: My parents finish college. No. 21 of 26 posts in the April 2024 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme, My Life: The Prequal (in Snapshots) — adding my parents’ story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

When my parents Norm and Peg (Laurence) Charboneau graduated from college in the late 1940s, they made history in their respective families – the first in their generation to earn bachelor’s degrees.

Mom graduated first on June 9, 1947, with a bachelor’s degree as a music supervisor from New York’s Potsdam State Teachers College, Crane School of Music.

Mom launches her music career

Mom’s love of music – which stemmed back to childhood – flourished at Potsdam. She even made the Dean’s List senior year, an accomplishment that appeared in a front-page article in the college’s newspaper The Racquette on Oct. 4, 1946.

Mom left college equipped for what would be a long career in Music Education – enhanced later by master’s and doctorate degrees.

My mom Peg Laurence’s senior yearbook entry (1947). Source: Pioneer Yearbook 1947

In the fall of 1947, Mom started her first professional position as a vocal teacher at Atlantic City Junior High School in New Jersey.

My mom Peg Laurence’s graduation invitation, card, and program (1947). Photo by Molly Charboneau

Dad begins his technical career

Dad graduated with his bachelor’s degree the following year, on Feb. 22, 1948, having resumed electrical engineering studies at Clarkson Tech in Potsdam, N.Y., after Navy service during WWII.

During college he set a life pattern by joining some engineering professional groups – the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE).

My dad Norm Charboneau’s senior yearbook entry (1948). Source: Clarksonian Yearbook 1948

Dad remained active in similar associations throughout his career as he moved from electronics to quality control at several major corporations. Within months of graduating, Dad started his first job at DuMont Television Laboratories in New Jersey.

My dad Norm Charboneau’s graduation invitation and card (1948). Photo by Molly Charboneau

College activities & proud graduates

My parents’ senior college yearbooks show their varied activities. Mom was active in areas besides music, including Student Council and the Finance Committee. Dad was focused on career networking, but also participated in intramural sports.

Completing college clearly meant a lot to each both. Among their papers, I found carefully saved invitations to their respective graduations – ceremonies I am sure were attended by their proud parents.

Of course, to get to college my parents had to complete high school — so let’s see how they did during their teen years! Up next, V is for Valedictorian and Graduation Pianist. Please stop back!

© 2024 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “University graduates: My parents finish college #atozchallenge2024”

  1. Having already met your folks in other stories, its fun to compare their experience to my own parents, both of whom were the first generation to get a college education. I have their high school and university yearbooks too and am amazed at the many activities they participated in. For years my dad still lugged around college textbooks that he could not part with, like a dictionary on technical German for engineers, or a thick mathematics handbook with tables for solving trigonometry problems. I think he placed a value on these books because they retained a memory of his college days. I suppose I have a good size collection of my own. Maybe someday I really will finish that book on Baroque counterpoint.

    1. Yes, those college textbooks can be hard to give up. I still have one or two as well 🙂 Thankfully, my parents also saved their yearbooks. Although their colleges have digitized them, my parents’ copies have all the fun signatures from their friends.

  2. What a fun post and glimpse into the lives of your parents and the times, once again! Their parents/your grandparents must have been so proud that their children were the first to get college degrees! 🙂

    1. They were! My maternal grandparents’ were at my mom’s graduation, with my grandmother snapping photos. I’m sure my dad’s folks were at his graduation as well.

  3. Sounds like they made good use of their degrees in their chosen fields of careers. One of my sisters graduated with a teaching degree, taught for 3 years, and decided it wasn’t what she wanted to do after all. The other sister graduated with a degree in psychology and so far as I know, never went into the field at all.

    1. Funny you should mention all of that. My parents did go full speed ahead in their chosen fields, and perhaps because of that they had a hard time adjusting to their children changing majors, jobs and careers over a lifetime. I think it was a difference between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers.

  4. Very nice. My brother and I were the first generation to go to college in either of my family lines – although we all agree that my mother was the smartest person we had ever met. Your parents had admirable schooling and careers.

  5. More memories from documents kept by your parents-it’s been a treasure trove for you and your family. So your father worked for DuMont Television labs as his first job? It makes me wonder if he became involved any with the operations of the DuMont television network of the 40’s and 50’s. What a first technical job, being on the cutting edge of then modern technology. So exciting for him. DuMont even has a Facebook page -they still have fans who remember the network fondly.

    1. That it was! I still remember our first family TV (probably a DuMont), with a small screen set in a big wooden box. Little as it was, we kids were still mesmerized by the tiny screen. I think Dad was on the technical side, but I remember him telling me that convincing people to buy the TVs was somehow part of the job, too.

  6. I don’t know if my father went to his college graduations or not. I don’t think my mother did. They didn’t have year books in college. Not sure if the school had them.

    1. Same thing happened with my Dad in high school. He got all kinds of academic and sports awards, but his school was too small for a yearbook. Thankfully, his details were covered in the local paper.

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