With Lil’ Sibs Weekend coming up, The Carroll News got to thinking: ‘What about all of the pairs of siblings that already attend John Carroll together? What’s in it for them?’ Well, we talked with a few of these pairs and found out what it’s like having Lil’ Sibs Weekend every weekend.
Cedric and Jeanniece Jackson
Sophomore Jeanniece Jackson and her freshman brother Cedric Jackson not only see each other around campus, but as commuters spending time together at home as well.
“Since I’m a sophomore in the Boler School of Business, I’m able to help Cedric plan some of his course load, and show him a lot of the ropes around campus. He’s always there to share information with me that I may not have been aware of, so we both help each other out,” Jeanniece said.
Even before Jeanniece came to JCU, Cedric commented how his family’s ties to the University had a significant influence, while Jeannice helped make the final push.
“It was a combination of JCU being my relatives’ alma mater, and the personal reflection of Jeanniece’s campus experiences, that caused me to want to attend JCU,” Cedric said.
Even though Jeanniece and Cedric Jackson experience Lil’ Sibs Weekend everyday at JCU, the Jackson clan does not end there as their little brother will be visiting that weekend.
“Our younger brother, Carlin, is a junior at Cleveland Heights High School, and he’ll be coming for Lil’ Sibs Weekend. He’s looking to attend Case Western Reserve for computer engineering,” Jeanniece said.
Cedric didn’t realize how beneficial it would be to have Jeanniece on campus. Cedric is relieved to have someone to get advice from and be able to see a familiar face between classes.
“Jeanniece offers me wisdom that the typical freshman might not find out until later in the college career,” Cedric said.
Both Jeanniece and Cedric are Arrupe Scholars and directors of the JCU Gospel Choir. Contrary to constant interaction being considered annoying, Jeanniece comments on how fun it really is.
“We participate in a lot of the same service and community activities on and off campus, especially since we’re both Arrupe Scholars. As the vocal director and president of the JCU Gospel Choir, and with Cedric being our musical director, we have a lot of fun working together and using each others’ talents; it’s brought us closer together as well,” Jeanniece said.
Cedric has been happy with his decision to come to JCU, and is relieved he never had to experience the solo cafeteria experience thanks to Jeanniece.
“I really enjoy attending school with my sister, running into her on campus, and being able to catch lunch together,” Cedric said.
Mike and Katie Skelly
Junior Katie Skelly feels that since her brother, freshman Mike Skelly, has started school, their family bond has grown a lot.
“I really enjoy having Mike here at John Carroll with me,” she said. “I think it has made our brother-sister bond stronger.”
Mike enjoys being at school with his sister because she has helped him adjust to being away from home.
“She has helped me adjust to the college life, and is always willing to help me out with anything I need,” he said.
It helps that both are majoring in the sciences, so they can help each other with homework.
Both have also started a tradition to help them stay close.
“Katie and I sometimes watch Cavs games together, and we eat lunch together on Fridays,” said Mike. “Our schedules usually conflict a bit, not allowing us to do too much together. But we hang out when we can. Having lunch together helps us bond by just being able to catch up and talk about how our weeks went and what’s going on for the weekend.”
John Carroll was not even on Katie’s radar when she was looking at schools. Her parents suggested they stop by on their way back from a trip to Cleveland, and she fell in love with the University.
Mike, who was on the trip with his sisters and parents, figures the reason he decided to come to JCU was because of the opportunities his sister has had here.
“I visited the campus with her when she was in search of colleges, and the tour we took at JCU was great,” he said. “I really liked the campus and it wasn’t far from home. When Katie finally came here, I got to hear more about JCU and the opportunities that [it] offers.”
Another moment the two grew close was when their family experienced a death.
“Earlier in the semester, our Grandmother passed away and it was tough to get through,” said Mike. “But Katie was there for me as I was for her.”
Mike and Katie have a younger sister who is planning to attend Lil’ Sibs Weekend, March 20 and 21. The weekend, hosted by the Office of Residence Life, will include activities and entertainment for JCU students and their siblings.
“My younger sister is 13 and has come to Lil’ Sibs Weekend for the past two years,” Katie said. “Although I don’t think she has college on her mind right now, she has seen how happy it has made me. She proudly sports the John Carroll T-shirts that she’s stolen from my closet.”
When Katie graduates in the spring of 2011, Mike will not need to lean as much on his sister for guidance.
“When Katie leaves, it will be different, but I have already adjusted to college,” he said. “When she leaves, I know I won’t be able to see her as much, but I’m sure we will still be close.”
Amy and Lauren Gunderman
Sisters Amy and Lauren Gunderman love being at John Carroll together, but, it almost didn’t happen.
“Me being at JCU actually, I think, was a turn-off for Lauren,” Amy Gunderman said. “She wanted to go somewhere completely new, but she ended up loving Carroll.”
Lauren agrees that she, at first, wanted to look elsewhere for college.
“I’m the type of person who needs her independence, and I wanted to strike out on my own,” she said. “Then I visited the campus and fell in love with [it].”
When Lauren came to JCU, she was surprised to discover that her older sister would be her resident assistant in Sutowski Hall. She said it has worked out for the better, not only for her, but for the rest of the girls on the floor too.
“Her being my sister and being my friends’ RA has brought our whole floor close together,” said Lauren. “I feel like she is all of their’s sister too, and I like that my friends enjoy her company as much as I do.”
The elder Gunderman loves having her sister around for support, and to help keep her humble.
“She is honestly my best friend here as well as my sister,” she said. “We do a lot of things together, and we go to each other for advice because she’ll tell me the honest, brutal truth.”
Having her sister around was beneficial for Lauren because it gave her a shoulder to lean on when starting college.
“My family is really close and having a person here from our ‘close-family-home’ is very comforting,” she said. “I also think it helped me skip a lot of the homesickness others were experiencing, because I had someone here that understood me completely and knew me. Also, Amy and I are a lot different but we like doing things together like working out, eating some meals together, and doing homework together.”
It also helps that both sisters have similar interests.
“We are in the same major and the same scholarship, so she helps [me with] my class choices and my tough subjects when she can,” said Lauren. “We [also] do service projects together for our scholarship.”
The Gunderman family will have three brothers visiting over Lil’ Sibs Weekend, ages 9, 12 and 16. The jury is still out as to whether they will all continue the family tradition at JCU.
“They all are too young to really think about colleges yet,” Amy said.
In the end, they are both glad to be with each other at school.
“It’s amazing having her here and I’d have it no other way,” Lauren said.