Wednesday, February 14, 2018

From High School Sweethearts to Peirce College Graduates – Meet Carolyn and Jim Stuart

On February 9, 1866, Peirce College had its first student graduate. Since this time, Peirce has had thousands of students graduate from the College. Each of them carrying with them a unique Peirce story that is embedded in the fabric of our institution. We caught up with two alums who attended Peirce back in 1963 and invited them to share their stories with us. This time of year, they are of particular interest because not only did they graduate together, they’re also happily married! It’s a Peirce College Valentine story we just had to share.

Carolyn (Booz) and Jim Stuart, sweethearts of the class of 1965, first met in 7th grade when their homeroom classes were right next to one another. Their relationship grew over time and they eventually started dating toward the end of their high school career.

As graduation approached, they both had plans to continue on with their education and knew exactly where to go – Peirce! Carolyn and Jim learned about the College from friends and family members who had previously attended. What they learned then about Peirce still holds true today. Peirce enjoyed a great market reputation, was cost-efficient, and helped students figure out how to finance their education. Carolyn was immediately sold and Jim wasn’t far behind on his decision-making.

After deciding on Peirce, they found yet another positive aspect for their newest journey – they could commute in by train! Each day, these two love birds took the train in and out of Philadelphia together—a ride that afforded them time together and the chapters of their evolving love story.

Jim said, “Sometimes we had to run or jog to get the train. We had some secret underground routes! The memories of catching and riding the train are some of the best and most dearest.”

Despite having similar academic dreams, they had different career goals. Carolyn decided to pursue a Medical Secretary degree (similar to our current Healthcare Administration program) and Jim entered into the Business Management program (similar to our current Business Administration degree). Both had a passion for their respective industries.

Carolyn initially wanted to be a nurse but she quickly learned the hands-on aspect of the job was not for her. She heard of the medical secretary program and knew the administrative side of the medical field was right up her alley.

Jim, on the other hand, always knew he wanted to be a business man and followed that path when entering Peirce. Jim was, after all, the son of business-focused parents. The family opened a small music store in 1951 when Jim was just 5 years old. From the very beginning, he started learning how to take inventory, how to stock shelves, and a host of other competencies required to own and run a business.

While all of this experience may have been enough, at the time, for Jim to run the family business, Jim still wanted to pursue a degree. Jim shared that, “I knew a degree would help me with the business. My degree made me think. It made me see the ins and outs of business I wouldn’t have thought of without it.”

Following graduation, both of these eager students entered the workforce in their respective fields. Jim took over the family business, where he was able to grow and expand in his new role. He credits his success with the strong foundation he gained at Peirce—accounting, math and business courses strengthened his ability to work and lead.

Carolyn entered the medical field working in a local hospital’s community health education department. She remained there for 25 years as a patient advocate. Following this role, she worked at a local cardiologist’s office for 8 years in an administrative role.

Carolyn said, “Medical Terminology is one class that was extremely helpful when I moved into my career. The professors were always very thorough in what they taught and extremely encouraging. You always got a great overall experience.”

Armed with academic and professional success, Jim and Carolyn decided to tackle their greatest joint endeavor—marriage! They tied the knot in October 1965 – just a few months following their college graduation!

Now, as alumni and newlyweds for over 52 years, Jim and Carolyn look back on some of their fondest Peirce memories. Jim said, “One of my favorite Peirce memories is the comradery I shared with all the other guys. It was so easy to make friends and there were no prejudices! We were all Peirce students together and we had fun with it!”

Carolyn agreed that making friends was her favorite memory, sharing, “You’d sit around waiting for your next class or you would be studying and you always had friends surrounding you.” Carolyn and Jim definitely made a lot of friends at Peirce. So much so that many were invited to their wedding and Carolyn even had one of her closest classmates as her maid of honor!

Carolyn and Jim finally made their way back to visit Peirce fall of 2017 as parents of two and grandparents of three. Their family tree wasn’t the only thing that had changed, though! Peirce had expanded immensely since they last stopped by. They were able to tour the school, reminisce on their memories and see how Peirce had advanced and grown since their graduation. Although time has passed, their importance as Peirce Alumni has not changed. Their visit was yet another reminder of the many lives Peirce has impacted and the extent to which our institution is not just a place of learning. For many, like Jim and Carolyn, Peirce was a place where lifelong relationships were cultivated and flourished.

We are grateful to Carolyn and Jim for stopping by to visit and for taking the time to share with us just a few pages of their amazing and ever-present love story.