Three brothers to graduate together

May 5 2006

Collin, Courtney and Jonathan Applewhite have more in common than being brothers. All three are graduating from Indiana State University on Saturday.

The Elkhart siblings say they know the importance of setting goals, developing plans for meeting those goals, and then carrying out those plans.

Twins Courtney and Collin are completing master's degrees in human resource development while Jonathan, who is younger, will receive a bachelor's degree in business. The three are the first of their immediate family to complete college.

"We're attempting to be role models not for ourselves, but for the people around us, as well as the people in our community, whether that be Elkhart, Terre Haute or the Indiana State community," Courtney said.

"We're setting a bar and knocking down a wall for our entire family so we all can go to college and graduate," Jonathan said.

In earlier generations, "college may not have been afforded to a lot of people," Collin said, "but it has been afforded to us and we're trying to make the best of our chances."

Federal TRIO programs have been expanded in recent years to serve more low-income, first-generation college students. All three Applewhite brothers benefited from the Student Support Services program at Indiana State as undergraduates, while Courtney and Collin were also in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which prepares under-represented college students for graduate school. Both are TRIO programs.

The twins, whose bachelor's degrees are in business administration, refined their research skills as McNair Scholars, and say that research, gave them a jump start on graduate school.

"My major project was strategic planning and the correlation of strategic planning with the success rate of small- to mid-sized businesses," Collin said.

"You've got to plan for success every day and you don't just plan in business you plan in life," he said. "It's important for people to take that initiative. I have a very specific plan for two years down the road and something more general for seven years out."

Collin's plans include becoming an entrepreneur. Rather than "working for the man, I want to be the man," he said. It's a sentiment his twin shares.

"Entrepreneurship is the way of the future," Courtney said. "It's always good to 'own your own.'"

Networking is another tool for success the twins expanded upon while at Indiana State, according to Courtney.

"In McNair, we've met a lot of positive people who have been there for us," he said. "A lot of times we like to look in the mirror and say 'I'm strong and I can do it all alone' but that's not so. You often need a hand in some kind of way."

Having developed a different plan for college than his brothers who stayed in college for six straight years, Jonathan plans to try his hand in the job market for a couple of years before returning to graduate school.

'I'm going to get the resumes out and pray I get some good news," he said.

Those who worked with the Applewhites at Indiana State say they expect good news for all three.

"Collin and Courtney both excelled in the McNair program due to their commitment to a quality education and their driving passion to do their best," said Tony Brewer, director of the McNair Achievement Program at ISU. "Both have already exceeded beyond the standards that have been set for them in our society in terms of education, attainment and academic achievement. They have become examples of what a supportive and nurturing college environment can achieve."

Rita Worrall, director of Student Support Services at ISU, said Courtney, Collin and Jonathan "represent the goal and purpose of the Student Support Services program, which is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of under-represented students and facilitate the process of transition from one level of higher education to the next.

"The success of students like the Applewhite brothers is the greatest reward our staff can experience," Worrall said.

The brothers said they were attracted to Indiana State by the strength of the university's College of Business; relatively small class sizes; and ISU's location being within easy driving distance of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Evansville and Chicago.

The African-American trio found another attribute they hadn't expected. The Elkhart Central High School graduates quickly found themselves interacting with students from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds from throughout the United States and several Asian, European and African nations. Indiana State's student body is the most diverse of all the state's four-year residential universities.

"Diversity is a huge competitive advantage. In a world of globalization, diversity is definitely important," Courtney said.

"Because the population at Indiana State is small compared with Indiana University or another big school, you get to mingle with and really get to know one another. We can be friends," Jonathon said.

"We've been afforded a great experience by being a part of Indiana State's environment," Collin said.

But the brothers say their parents, John and Dolly Applewhite, are the people who have been most instrumental in their development.

"They have been great support forces for us and they have been our guides throughout life," Courtney said. "They've been a true blessing. I don't think there will be another person on this earth happier on the day we all graduate."

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Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Brothers Collin, Courtney and Jonathan Applewhite of Elkhart will graduate together during ISU's spring commencement. Twins Courtney and Collin are completing master's degrees in business administration while younger brother Jonathan is completing a bachelor's degree in business.

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