Mother and daughter make attending Newman a family affair


There is nothing unusual about a college student making time between classes to meet her mother for lunch. When that lunch also depends on what time her mother’s classes fall, however, you know that this family’s college traditions are different than most.

Such was the case for Beth Engels and her daughter Amanda (Engels) Miller, who graduated from Newman University together in May 2010. Beth earned a master of social work and Amanda received a bachelor of science in biochemistry. To make it even more of a family affair, Amanda’s then-fiancé, now-husband Kyle Miller graduated from Newman at the same time, also with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

“It was really nice,” said Amanda about being at Newman at the same time as her mother. “We would try to go out and get a bite to eat when possible.”

“It was a lot of fun being at the same school with Amanda,” Beth agreed. “When our schedules allowed, we would grab lunch or just visit for a bit.”

Engels / Courtesy photo

L-r: Mother Beth Engels with daughter Amanda (Engels) Miller and her husband Kyle Miller at graduation.

Note the emphasis on “when our schedules allowed.” Because of their very different areas of study, most of their classes were in different buildings, and the two typically had to go out of their way to spend time together on campus.

Becoming a Jet
Amanda came to Newman before her mother, and chose it because of its small size, the scholarships she received, and for a reason that would later prove ironic — she wanted to be closer to her family.

Beth, on the other hand, did not originally plan on attending Newman. With only two local schools offering the degree she wanted, however, her options were limited. When one of the schools didn’t respond to her inquiries and Newman’s director of Social Work responded within two hours, her decision became much easier. Add to that a little extra persuasion from Amanda, and Beth became a Jet. After a little more discussion with Amanda, Beth switched from part-time study to full-time and eventually graduated with her daughter.

Now one year later, Beth and Amanda took some time to look back on their experience.

“My two favorite things about Newman would be all the friends that I made and all the close relationships I made with the faculty,” Amanda said. “Their doors were always open and ready to talk with you or help you out.”

Beth also recognized Newman’s faculty as one of its greatest strengths. “What I valued most was the sincerity of the professors,” she said.

Beth and Amanda also liked Newman’s sense of community. Still, they noted the growth the university is experiencing and some of the challenges that come with it.

“During the four years I was there, the school had been going through some major changes that seemed like growing pains at times,” recalled Amanda. Beth added that there were few activities for graduate students to become involved.

Both agreed, however, that having one another around helped on the difficult days.

“It was convenient being together,” Beth recalled  especially when she had a car accident. “Amanda was able to help me out giving me rides or simply letting me take a nap in her apartment!”

Amanda agreed. “It was nice to have my mom around at times, especially if I was having a bad day.”

Two generations at a time
Ultimately, they both feel that Newman has provided them with what they need for the next step of their lives.

“I was involved in extra-curricular activities that gave me much of the leadership experience I have today,” Amanda said. “I learned how to be a young adult and how to give back to my community.”

Beth is now using her degree as a bereavement coordinator for Hospice Care of Kansas and focusing on the upcoming high school graduation of her son Jonathan.

Amanda and Kyle, who have known one another since middle school, married shortly after graduation. They are living in Kansas City, Kan., and both attend the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

They may not be the type of family that makes a point of attending every home game or displaying Jets logos on every wall, but Beth and Amanda have a unique place in the history of Newman family traditions. While some families attend Newman generation after generation, the Engels women attended Newman two generations at a time.


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