June 8, 2006
By Jessica Cuffman
Imagine being the seventh person in your family to graduate from the same college.
Commercial photography student Celeste Elliott will be that person this week, as she participates in Ohio University's graduate commencement.
Elliott's family history at Ohio began with her grandfather, Rush Elliott, who entered the university in 1920. After leaving for a brief stint to earn his doctorate from the University of Michigan, he returned to Ohio in 1930 to become the first assistant professor in zoology. He accelerated through the ranks at the university, eventually serving as dean of University College and director of the summer school. He retired in 1973 and died in 1981.
Through the work and love of his former students, the Elliott Professorship was created to honor him. The professorship recognizes Ohio University biological sciences professors who carry on its namesake's legacy of outstanding teaching and student advising.
Elliot's grandfather began the family legacy at Ohio, followed by her grandmother and then her father and his two sisters graduating from the university. A cousin and Elliot make up the third generation of Bobcats in her family.
"If I do have kids, I would love for them to come to Ohio University. I plan to try to push my brother's kids toward Ohio. It'd be great to have a fourth generation here," she says.
Celeste didn't always think she'd come to Ohio University. She was looking at art schools when she discovered Ohio's School of Visual Communication. She went on to earn her undergraduate degree in photojournalism and has one year completed toward her master's degree in commercial photography.
This summer, she plans to return to her hometown of Salem, Ohio, to work on her thesis and perform assistant photography work. In the fall, her plan is to move to a New York apartment and find assistant work there, eventually opening her own studio.
However, she's going to miss this classic college town.
"Athens is so much like a home to me – and the university? I can't say enough about how great it's been to be in Viscom. The attention you get from professors, and beyond the classroom, it's the people," she said.
The "family atmosphere" is one of the things she will miss the most.
"If I had gone anywhere else, to an art school or a larger university, I just wouldn't have had that. There's so much collaboration among the students," she said.
Jessica Cuffman is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing.