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All in the (Eagle) Family

Jonnel Clothier's son Satchel Hewitt is among a handful of first-year students with longstanding ties to AU.

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From left: Joe Hewitt, Satchel Hewitt and Jonnel Clothier.

Satchel Hewitt was once a tyke napping on a mat under his mother’s desk in her office. Now, the 18-year-old is a first-year student studying graphic design at the School of Communication. From then to now, AU has been the connective tissue. 

“He has really grown up here,” said Jonnel Clothier, AU Central senior director and Hewitt’s mom. “So, it was kind of a surprise to his dad and I that he decided he wanted to be here.”

Hewitt is one of a handful of first-year students learning how to navigate studying on the same campus where their parents work, attending AU using a generous benefit that provides four years of free undergraduate tuition at AU or Wesley Seminary to the dependent children of full-time employees with at least two years of service, who earn admission to the university.

The benefit also covers up to two years of graduate school, meaning the four years could be used for part of undergraduate and graduate study.

“It’s a really fantastic benefit to have as an employee of the university and to know that you have that option if AU is the right place for your student,” Clothier said. “It’s really funny, in my office there are three of us that have kids here.” 

When it was time to apply to college, AU was what Hewitt knew best. It was where he took his childhood dog to run in the rain, where his dad pitched baseballs to him, and yes, sometimes where he snoozed. 

But he explored other options too, including schools big and small, hundreds of miles from his hometown of DC. In the end, he decided during Admitted Students Day in March that going to college four miles from his childhood home felt right.

“This community really is strong, and it’s a small campus,” Hewitt said. “In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten to know so many people that I can say hello to. When I was here for Admitted Students Day, I got that sense that it was a community different than others.”

Hewitt and his mom are still working out the dynamics of working and studying on the same campus. Clothier goes to the Jacobs Fitness Center when she knows Satchel is in class and the two have yet to run into each other organically, aiming to give each other adequate space.

But Hewitt doesn’t shy away from telling his friends his mom works at AU, and his dorm at Letts Hall is just a three-minute walk away from her office in the Asbury Building. That comes in handy when he stops by once a week to catch up with her over Gatorade and a bag of Cheetos in her office.

“I try to have fun with it because I feel comfortable. I have my mom here. I have faculty here that will say ‘hi’ to me,” he said. “People know me. That gives me the confidence to float around and add people to that group.”

Will your dependent child be entering college soon? Register for an Office of Human Resources webinar from 12 to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, September 27 to learn from benefits experts about eligibility, application processes, and upcoming deadlines.