With at least one member of their family graduating from IU Kokomo every year since 2016, Brian and Angela Jakes are pros at Commencement.
And while they joke about asking for a volume discount on tuition, or having a window or bench named after them, they are proud of their tradition and accomplishments.
“It’s pretty special that we’ve all not only gone to the same school, but have done so in a relatively short period of time,” said Brian Jakes, who graduated in May with a degree in elementary education.
“I’m so proud of all of them,” added Angela Jakes, especially that they and their children have all graduated in four years, and that all graduates have jobs in their fields.
She teaches fifth graders at Kokomo’s Wallace Elementary School of Integrated Arts, while oldest son Bradley is a fifth-grade teacher at North White Elementary in Monon. Next son Shadrach is an e-commerce developer for Purdue Federal Credit Union.
Angela began their family tradition by graduating from IU Kokomo in 2016. Bradley followed in 2017, Shadrach graduated in 2018, and husband Brian recently graduated.
They’ll get a break in 2020 — Angela calls it their bye year — before youngest son Jeremy completes a biology degree in 2021. By the time he graduates, the youngest family member, Molly Kate, will be a seventh grader, so they will have a few years before another Jakes goes to college.
Angela Jakes was first to enroll, waiting until Molly Kate was in kindergarten to begin her degree.
She heard about the cross-country program just getting started, and thought it would be a good opportunity for her sons. Without their permission, she contacted Coach Jason VanAlstine for more information, and was impressed with what she heard.
“We’re an academics first family, and he let us know straight away our kids were going to be safe, and grades would be priority,” she said. “I felt his leadership would be essential to getting our kids through college.”
The team played a crucial role in the boys’ success and experience, providing a family experience on campus with values similar to those at home. Study tables were required, and team members were expected to maintain excellent grades.
“I don’t believe for a second I would have done as well academically if I hadn’t been on the team,” he said. “There was very definite peer pressure to perform in the classroom.”
Brian had started an education degree several years ago, and, inspired by his wife’s example, decided to finish it after she graduated. For now, their home routine is that he studies while Angela creates lesson plans, and Molly Kate completes her fifth grade homework.
This year is the first that only two Jakeses are enrolled at IU Kokomo, rather than three. Even with three of them in the same major, they’ve never been in a class together, though Angela and Shadrach were in different sections of the same math class one semester.
“It was my last math class, and his entry level,” Angela said. “I struggled, and he got straight A’s. He helped me a lot.”
They appreciate the opportunity for their family to earn college degrees close to home.
“It’s meant everything to me,” Angela said, not only as a student, but as a parent.
“I knew my kids were in an instructive and educational environment, where they were able to enjoy their abilities to the fullest extent. I never felt like they were so far away. We never lost that connection.”
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.