A World Class Family

Jeanelle and Megan Wiley at last Saturday's Commencement Mother, daughter graduate from the same master's program at Saturday's commencement.

ST. LOUIS (MAY 12, 2014) - A family’s focus on education is represented as both mother and daughter graduate with the same degree.

Out of 7,217 students graduating from Webster University in 2014, 33 are staff members and 27 are children or spouses of staff members.

The Wiley family is represented in both of those groups as Jeanelle Wiley, University Secretary at Webster University and her daughter Megan both graduated with a master’s degree in international relations.

“This has always been my rule with my daughters - No wedding money until you get your master’s degree,” said Jeanelle. “After I started working at Webster, I figured I should walk the walk.”

Megan Wiley earned her undergraduate degree in 2012 and always knew that she’d pursue a post-graduate degree.

“There was one rule in the house growing up; you absolutely, positively have to earn your master’s degree and travel internationally,” said Megan Wiley.

Megan has been able to travel to France, the Middle East and China for her education and hopes to travel to Vietnam in the future. When Megan wasn’t traveling, the two were able to take classes together, both online and in person.

Jeanelle said she learned more about her daughter by having classes with her.

“I loved sitting in class and hearing Megan argue - in a respectful way, of course - with the teacher or other students,” said Jeanelle. “Megan is a great debater and she always has statistics and facts to back up her comments.  I sometimes thought ‘my gosh, she’s more grown-up than I am.’ It was the coolest thing.”

Megan also enjoyed learning about her mother in the classroom and was thrilled to be able to support her.

“My mom always interacts well with others even in a confrontational setting. She can get her point across without being offensive,” said Megan. “Growing up, we always had controversial conversations at the dinner table, about politics, religion and everything you can think of. My mom encouraged us to be thinkers and we had to be able to back our opinion up because it’s useless if you can’t support your ideas.”

Megan said that even though they were studying and learning as equals, her mom still was there for help and support.

“This is going to sound like the most ‘mom’ thing ever but when we had class together, she would always pack me a lunch of snacks from one of the campus cafes. She knew that some days I was running on nothing but caffeine and determination.”

Although Jeanelle and Megan graduated on May 10, education continues in the Wiley household. Jeanelle’s second oldest, Katherine Wiley, who’s currently working towards her masters in social policy & development- non-governmental organizations at London School of Economics, received her undergraduate degree from Webster London; Caroline, who also serves on the SGA, is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in education and French at the home campus, and Jillian is a sophomore at Rosati-Kain high school.

“Education is the only thing no one can take from you,” said Jeanelle. “You can lose your car, your house or even your job but you will always have the accomplishment of your degree. Education never puts you in a worse situation. It’s worth the sacrifice.”

Megan agrees that education is important and credits her mother in helping her to achieve her goals.

“This experience has taught me that for a woman to get an education, it really does take a village. It took my Webster University village and my home village.”