Three Lafayette siblings follow in family’s legacy—for third time

By Phoebe Lim, Wildcats Media

Three is a magic number.  Nowhere is this truer than Louisiana Christian University, where the Thompson trio are. LCU has had a lot of graduates over its 116 years in Pineville.  Sometimes, generations of the same family attend LCU, and this is the case with the Thompson siblings.

The three siblings from Lafayette are enrolled in LCU’s undergraduate programs. Joel, 21, is a graduating senior in convergence media—journalism. Nathan, 19, is a social work major, and younger sister Julia Thompson, 18, is a public relations major.  

Their mother, Paige Terry Hamilton, said their family has a rich history with the school going back 60 years, and her children are the third generation of their family to attend. Hamilton said she is not surprised—but is very happy—her three children ended up at LCU together. 

My parents, MaLCUolm Terry, from Harrisonburg, and Kay McGee from Woodville, Texas, met at LCU in the fall semester of 1965,” she said. “They were both freshmen. They were married in December 1968, lived in married student housing and graduated from LCU—both with degrees in elementary education.  Almost all of my aunts and uncles are LCU graduates as well.

“In fact, in my family, there seems to be this unique trend of three siblings being Wildcats together.”

Hamilton’s mother, Kay McGee Terry, and two aunts, Lynn McGee Erwin and Beth McGee Dardis, were all attending LCU between 1968 and 1970.

One might ask what keeps bringing members of this family back to this school?  What about Louisiana Christian University has impacted them so greatly?

Pursuing a degree in journalism, Joel visited several campuses around Louisiana, Mississippi, and East Texas in the spring of 2016 before he contacted LCU.  According to Hamilton, during his tour of LCU, they met the chair of the Division of Media, Communication and Theatre, Elizabeth Barfoot Clarke.

“They actually had like a radio program of some kind,” Joel said.  “It was a radio practicum course and Dr. Clarke allowed me to come in and actually participate in that show and I actually really enjoyed it and got to kind of experience what people did in Wildcats Media Lab hands-on.”

He went on to say that because of the personal aspect, the small campus, the opportunities, and the community, he wanted to attend LCU.

“I ultimately decided to come to LCU primarily because of that family relationship,” Joel said.

A lot of the deciding factors for Julia, who is studying public relations and graphic design, had to do with the connections LCU offered as well as the size of the school.  Of course, her brother Joel attending LCU was another reason she wanted to become a Wildcat.  

“I knew people, I wouldn’t be going in without any connections at all,” she said.  “I like that it’s small, and that I’m familiar with the area because I grew up in north Louisiana.”

Interestingly, Julia started her journey in the same location her grandmother, Kay Terry, completed hers several decades ago—in a room on the third floor of Cottingham. And grandma’s quilt, made by her mother, made the journey back with her. 

The family history and legacy is something that is simply irreplaceable. Hamilton said that Julia tells her a lot about her life at LCU—everything from ball games to student events.

“In fact, she [Julia] rarely comes home on weekends because she loves LCU so much,” Hamilton said.

Middle brother Nathan, who is pursuing a degree in social work, was the final sibling to become a Wildcat.

Nathan seriously considered LCU. Initially, however, Nathan opted to begin his degree at a larger state university, but all the COVID-19 restrictions were in place in the fall of 2020.

“I struggled with virtual learning and felt isolated in the new environment,” he said.

Everything was locked down with no on-campus activities due to COVID. 

“After a miserable first semester,” according to Hamilton, “he said he realized he would be better off at LCU. He transferred over to LCU because he knew there were people there to support him.”

Seeing the Thompson siblings together, it’s obvious they share a special bond with one another.

“I love having my siblings at LCU,” Nathan said. “Growing up, my siblings and I were always very close, and I’m very glad that I’m able to continue to spend time with them while I’m at school.”

But…honestly, they are a bit goofy when asked about each other. Yet, the affection they have for each other is genuine. When asked about the first things that pop up when thinking about his brother, Nathan said politics and geography come to mind for Joel. His major professor Clarke agreed.

“In 17 years of teaching, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a student who has a favorite presidential election—1912—or favorite president—Chester A. Arthur—before. He knows more about American presidential politics than anyone I’ve ever known.”

Nathan and Julia said when Joel goes home on weekends, he leaves little drawings for them. He started doing this when he left home as a freshman four years ago, and now they find them when they return home from college. Julia said she has one hanging in her dorm that he drew of former Chinese President Mao Zedong.

“I found an elaborate drawing of the United States, and all the states had eyes mustaches,” Nathan said. “Another was a drawing of someone leaving a bomb in my room, and this character who looked like Joel saving me from the bomb.”

The conversation continued with Nathan comparing Julia to a strawberry-flavored Tootsie Roll because of her personality and her preference for pink. He explained—everyone knows Tootsie Rolls; most people like them, but she is unique, hence not the classic chocolate candy. When asked to describe her brothers, Julia grinned and presented an interesting and silly analogy.

“So, you know when you go to like the beach and you find a rock?” Julia asked.  “And you say, oh my gosh!  I just found the coolest rock, and you go to show everybody.  That’s my brothers.  They are like these cool, shiny rocks I found, and I want to show everyone.”

Clarke said that the way that Julia talks about her brothers is profound and touching. She has become close to the family over the four years she has taught Joel and now Julia to the point she said they feel like family.

“I don’t detect a hint of sarcasm when you talk about how much you really love your brothers,” Clarke said.

Chemistry Professor Sarah Payne said she has taught all three of the Thompsons. Julia and Joel are both part of the C.S. Lewis honors program, which Payne oversees.

“I have had all three Thompson in class at least once in the last few years, and each is uniquely created and equipped to pursue their God-ordained calling,” said Payne. “They all have a quiet reserve that hints at a well that runs still and deep.”

The siblings agree that their professors, other LCU folks, and the environment have all had a positive impact on them, as well.

“I definitely love most of the people that go to school here, and I’ve met a lot of great people during my time at LCU,” Joel said.

For Nathan, the Christian values of the school play a big role in what makes LCU so unique and different.

“LCU is special to me because my faith is encouraged, and I don’t have to hide who I am or what I believe,” he stated.

For Julia, the answer was much more practical.

“Honestly, they gave me good scholarships,” Julia said. Both Julia and Nathan are recipients of the Francis Schaeffer Scholarship, which is available to most church-going Louisiana resident students. Apart from this, LCU’s mission is to prepare students to excel in their careers by nurturing understanding and talents central to the liberal arts tradition while not leaving out the importance of religious values.

“I definitely feel like my children are receiving a top-quality educational experience, but more importantly I know they are being challenged to grow spiritually,” Hamilton said.

LCU’s mission statement is Louisiana Christian University is a Christ-centered community committed to academic excellence where students are equipped for lives of learning, leading, and serving.

Hamilton said that LCU is a place where she knows her children are acknowledged and loved by their professors and that it’s a safe environment for them to grow in their faith.

“Beyond mere words, however, is the heart that our leaders at Louisiana Christian University have for the students entrusted to us by God,” said President Dr. Rick Brewer.

Of course, having generations of the Thompson family at LCU has been a wonderful thing for this campus to experience. After all, three is a magic number. At least until Saturday, when the number of Thompsons at LCU will become two as Joel steps across the stage the receive his hard-earned diploma at the 167th Commencement Exercises at Rapides Parish Coliseum. In the fall he will become the first in his family to attend LSU Law School, where his LCU education prepared him well enough to receive a Dean’s Scholarship, covering nearly the entire first year’s tuition.

 

 

Media Advisory     |     May 4, 2022     |     Pineville, Louisiana
Contact: Dr. Elizabeth B. Clarke, Director of University Communications | Elizabeth.clarke@lacollege.edu