December 3, 2009
A Family Tradition: Sisters Brigid and Meaghan Smith are
Fifth Generation La Salle Students
For Brigid and Meaghan Smith of Sewell, N.J., choosing to attend La Salle University was an easy decision. For them, a La Salle education is simply a family tradition. Starting with their great-great-grandfather, John Spellman, Sr., who graduated in 1904, more than 30 family members spanning five generations have graduated from La Salle.
Education has always been a priority for the family. According to Maureen Mitchell Kelly, Brigid and Meaghan’s grandmother, “Education was viewed as an element to our lives as the basics of food, shelter, and religion. Our children were always aware that the family definition of a basic education included college.”
The family tradition began in 1902 when John Spellman, Sr., enrolled at La Salle. After graduating, Spellman went on to own a business and later served as manager of the audit department of Baldwin Locomotive. His son and grandson, John Jr., and John, III, continued the tradition, graduating from La Salle in 1936 and 1961 respectively. Over the generations, Spellman descendents with family names of Mitchell, Kelly, Motley, and now Smith, have walked as students through La Salle’s campus.
While more than 30 family members have earned La Salle degrees, Brigid and Meaghan are still among some of the first females from their family to attend La Salle. Founded in 1863, the University did not become fully co-educational until 1970. In 1985, Anita Kelly Guecia, Brigid and Meaghan’s aunt, became the first woman in the Spellman lineage to graduate from La Salle. Their mother, Moira Kelly Smith earned her MBA in 1991, becoming the first female in the family to earn a master’s degree.
Although the decision to come to La Salle was an easy one for Brigid, a junior marketing major, and Meaghan, a freshman biology major, they insist that they did not receive pressure from their family to become what may be La Salle’s first fifth generation family. “It’s a wonderful tradition our family has and it is great to know our family is a part of the University’s history,” said Meaghan. “I considered other schools, but I felt the most comfortable at La Salle.”