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Father and son graduate together with master’s at NSU 

Left to Right: Clint Gillman and Steve Gillman at their graduation on May 8

(Tahlequah, Okla.)-- Steve Gillman was brimming with pride when he talked about his son, Clint Gillman, graduating with a master’s in school administration from Northeastern State University back in May.

For Clint, the feeling was mutual.

The father and son duo walked across the stage one after the other at the NSU Event Center in Tahlequah on May 8, graduating with the same degree, at the same time.

“I wanted to walk first, so I could say I graduated before him,” Steve joked.

They did not enroll together however, Steve started the program in August 2012, while Clint joined in on the fun in January 2014.

“It was not planned in the beginning. Only last summer we realized it was possible if we adjusted our class schedules a bit,” Steve said.

Just the thought of achieving that milestone pushed both men to load up on classes and give it a try.

“I said to Clint, ‘You know what? We get this set up right, we could hit this together. How cool would that be?’” Steve recalled.

He enrolled in summer classes in order to catch-up, and Clint continued to take maximum courses each semester, along with summer classes.

 “I took 12 hours each semester. I always had the ambition to be a principal and get my master’s,” Clint said.

He graduated from NSU in 2012 with a degree in health and physical education and said he needed a short break.

“I said to him, ‘Let me know what you think about it Dad, and get back to me.’ And I think a year later, I got his feedback and saw how he could manage it with teaching at the same time, and that’s when I decided,” Clint said.

Steve is currently dean at Grand View School in Tahlequah and has been a teacher for about 15 years.

Clint is a teacher and football and baseball coach at Webbers Falls High School and has taught for a little under three years.

“Seeing my dad go through it, it just gave me that extra motivation to enroll and do it now.”

Clint laughed as he attempted to describe how he managed a 12-hour course load, his regular teaching job, and his first child, who was born in the middle of finals week last summer.

“I took the right sequence of classes, I took a lot of classes in the summer, and drank a lot of coffee. And, I have an amazing wife.”

They said in addition to studying hard and having the right support at home, their professors helped them balance the rigorous coursework with all their other responsibilities.

“NSU faculty knew we were trying to graduate together and it was a very welcoming and supportive environment,” Steve said.

They credited NSU for creating an environment that allowed them to be husbands, fathers, and teachers while also being graduate students.

Clint said when his son Cutler was born, his professors were very accommodating, and permitted him a short absence from classes.

It might seem like a small allowance, but Clint was able to be at his wife’s and newborn’s side.

“Even though I missed the last two days, I wasn’t penalized.”

Steve was also able to be there for his new grandson, missing one of his classes in the process, but with the blessing of his professors.

“We kept our assignments up, we kept our grades up. We held up our end of the work. We are very thankful to them for working with us,” Steve said.

NSU also stood out because of what it had to offer.

According to Clint, NSU was the best option when they were looking in to what institution to attend for their master’s.

“We looked around at different places and compared quality, finances, and proximity, and NSU came out on top for us.”

An additional bonus, he said, was the availability of interactive television (ITV).

“I could drive 20 minutes and still get the same class he (Steve) was getting, an hour and a half away.”

He said coupled with NSU’s reputation for producing quality education and school administration graduates, the choice became clear.

“NSU accommodated us better. They understood we were working adults. They worked with us while life was happening.”

Both alumni have now graduated from NSU as undergraduates and graduates.

“NSU all the way,” Steve said, who got his degree in Elementary Education at NSU in 1999.

They attended a couple classes together, and collaborated on some projects, albeit over the phone.

“It kind of put a whole new meaning to having your family’s support. It was quite literal in our case,” Clint said.

During graduation, after Steve received his certificate, he had the unique opportunity to immediately congratulate his son, as Clint was right behind him in the line.

“I stood in the aisle and waited, because I wanted to be the first one to congratulate him. We gave each other a big hug. I’m very proud of him, he’s done a great job.”

Clint wittily replied: “I’m just following you around, Dad.”

Published: 6/1/2015 10:40:40 AM

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