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Sibling roots spread wide at USI

December 8, 2023

The University of Southern Indiana is well known for its high-impact educational programs, beautiful campus and friendly, caring community. But a lesser-known fact is that almost entire families have attended the University. It’s clear sibling legacies have had an impact on the USI community, as much as the University has an impact on them when they are students here. Families strengthen the trust in USI both in its academic and community values. When it comes to sibling legacies, two stories in particular stand out.  

The Story of Six 

Luke Bohlen, a freshman civil engineering major, comes from a family of 10, including his parents Glenn and Lourdes. He is the youngest of eight children in his family which hails from Darmstadt, Indiana. Six of the siblings, including Luke, are attending or have attended USI over the past seven years.  

Luke, the sixth to make USI home, has two sisters and two brothers, Phoebe, Julia, Paul and Joe Bohlen, who are USI alumni. Phoebe graduated in 2016 with a degree in health services. She worked as the medical billing and collection coordinator for Tri-State Orthopedics. Julia graduated in 2020 with a degree in communication studies and worked as the Social Media Manager for La Beaute Spa in Carmel, Indiana. Both of his sisters are now stay-at-home moms. Paul graduated in 2022 and Joe in 2023, both with degrees in civil engineering. Paul works as a Field Engineer for Wessler Engineering, and Joe works as a Gas and Transmission engineer for CenterPoint Energy. Luke’s brother Tim is a current sophomore at USI and is also studying civil engineering. Luke credits Tim with helping him adjust to life on campus. Silas and Samuel are the only children in the Bohlen family who did not attend USI. 

When USI President Ronald Rochon met Luke during Screaming Eagles Orientation this past summer and learned he was one of six children to attend USI, he had a personalized USI T-shirt made for him with the number six on the back of it. 

“Siblings choosing USI as their academic home of choice is a very powerful indicator of the trust families have in the faculty and staff of our University,” says Rochon. “There is no greater compliment that recognizes our student success and academic excellence than that of Familia generational attendance. USI is a proud home to many siblings—those who stand on the shoulders of their big sisters and brothers.” 

Luke, who was homeschooled and grew up in a close family, says it’s no surprise he and his siblings are so close, ended up in similar majors and chose the same school. “There was little to no chance of going anywhere other than USI, to the point that the three youngest of my siblings only applied to one college, that being USI,” says Luke.

In addition to staying close to his siblings, Luke says he came to USI because it was affordable, close to home and has a good Engineering Program. “I was always interested in working on stuff and building things,” he says. “I worked on things like rebuilding dirt bikes, restoring trucks, building bow fishing boats, fixing tractors and building pole barns.”  

Along with his brothers Paul, Joe and Tim, Luke is also a Harolyn Torain Multicultural Leadership Scholar, and hopes to promote diversity and inclusion across campus. After college, Luke hopes to find a job working for the energy sector in gas transmission.  

A Legacy Motivated by Success 

The Bohlen family aren’t the only ones to have nearly their entire family attend USI. Jacqueline (Clark) Russell, an Evansville native, was one of eight siblings to attend USI over the course of 20 years.  

The first to graduate, Jacqueline, earned her degree in marketing in 1991. Her brothers, Mark Clark (1997) and John Clark (2000), followed with degrees in accounting. Bradley Clark was the next to attend USI, graduating in 2002 with a degree in marketing. Jeffrey Clark earned a degree in mechanical engineering technology in 2005, followed by Kenneth Clark in 2006 with a degree in public relations and advertising. Natalie (Clark) Labhart finished her degree in exercise science in 2009 and finally, Amanda (Clark) Wood graduated in 2011 with a degree in dental hygiene. Their parents are Paul and Kathleen Clark.  

Jacqueline says she and her siblings grew up in a family-orientated home, and valued being close to each other and the community they grew up in. “I don’t know that I ever expected [my siblings] to follow in my footsteps,” she says. “I could have moved away after graduation, but I didn’t want to miss out on seeing my younger siblings grow up.” 

“I think being one of the oldest, your younger siblings look up to you, and seeing success motivates them to seek those opportunities as well,” she says. “As each one attended, it made for strong testimony for the others and their desire to follow suit.  

Going to a local University and choosing jobs in their hometown helped Jacqueline and her siblings jumpstart their careers and keep long-standing positions.  

“All of my family members have held long-time positions, even though two moved out of town,” Jacqueline says. “In Evansville, there is a strong push to keep people local. I also have felt that people who live and go to school here value the sense of community, and many give back by volunteering time and treasure to keep our community strong.” 

Jacqueline says she is amazed by the growth of USI, the opportunities now available to students in terms of career choices and the elevated visibility and reputation the University has experienced in terms of providing a high-quality education.  

Today, three of the next-generation members of the Russell family are taking classes at USI, and the legacy continues to grow and spread its roots. 

Siblings Shaping USI  

It’s clear that generations of USI students are proud to be shaping campus culture, but each sibling wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the influence of the ones who came before them. Luke particularly thanks the influence of his brothers for his journey to USI. From here, the University continues to grow as a trusted name when it comes to offering a first-class education and robust campus life, igniting a passion for learning that spans generations. 

The Bohlen brothers - Luke, Tim, Joe '23 and Paul '22

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