Families find a home at APSU over several generations.
Alisha Jerles Horn (’09, ’12) never knew her grandfather, but sometimes, while walking across campus, she pictures him as a tall college student, dressed in an old-fashioned basketball uniform. William Grayford Nutt arrived at Austin Peay in 1937 as a 19-year-old athlete, and sometimes Horn imagines him waving at a pretty, young woman.
“My grandmother used to sit on the porch of her family home off Robb Avenue,” she said. “They formed a friendship and subsequent romance, marrying shortly after he earned his teaching certificate.”
Horn earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in counseling, and as an adjunct instructor, she still finds herself walking through the Clement Building, picturing her father, Dr. Joe Jerles (’71), proposing to her mother, the late Brenda Nutt Jerles (’72).
Horn is part of a legacy family at Austin Peay, with three generations earning degrees from the school. For her, like so many other legacies, the campus is like a living photo album or scrapbook, with family histories and legends lingering around columns of some of the oldest buildings.
“Austin Peay State University isn't just a place that I work or where my family and I went to school,” Horn said. “It's family.”
For some legacy families, Austin Peay is such a part of their lives that the campus appears in their earliest memories.
“When I was 4 years old, my mom (Ebony Nicole Parsons) graduated from here, and I was actually there,” Kibriana Parsons (’18) said. “My grandpa (Alexander Otis Parsons Sr.) graduated in 2007. He was in the military, stationed at Fort Campbell, and he really wanted to get an education. I was 12 when he graduated, and I went to that one also.”
The family returned the favor in May, when Parsons earned her degree.
“My grandfather, he drove 14 hours to be here,” she said. “Coming here and following my mom and grandfather’s footsteps was a great decision. I love it every time I think about it.”
The only choice
In the early 1970s, Carter Briggs (’77) narrowed his college choices to two schools — Austin Peay and Ole Miss. As a sports fan, Briggs liked the University of Mississippi’s football dominance in the early 1960s, but he kept feeling the pull of the local school where his father, Creson, attended.
“When I got to thinking about it, Briggs don’t get too far from Clarksville. There’s no place like home,” he said. “I was there through the Fly (Williams) era. We used to climb through the window to see the ball games.”
His wife, Pamela Ragan Briggs (’83, ’86), earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Austin Peay, and their daughter, Grace Catherine Briggs (’18), recently became the third generation to graduate from Austin Peay.
This fall, Phoenix Tarpy returned to Austin Peay. Years ago, she had lived in Emerald Hills, the campus’ family housing complex, while her mother, Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran, finished her undergraduate degree. In August, Phoenix arrived at APSU with a Dean’s Scholarship and a strong connection to the campus. In addition to her mother, her grandfather (Barry Arnold), her aunt (Melanie Arnold Mantz), her uncle (Farron Mantz) and her stepfather (Renaud) all earned degrees from Austin Peay. And her mother, Tina, spent five years at Austin Peay, establishing what was then called the Office of International Education.
“My husband, Renaud Rousselot de Saint Céran, was the first French exchange student hosted by APSU,” Tina said. “After his exchange program, he decided to return and complete his B.A. degree in foreign languages.”
Now Phoenix is continuing the family legacy of attending Austin Peay.