by Ryan Sones
Remember the days in kindergarten and first grade when you were able to show off your parents and what they did as real people in our world of dreams and make believe? For junior chemistry major Karie O’Neill those times have returned in her Development of American Democracy II class in a peculiar way.
In class everyday, Karie sits with her show and tell partner of the past, senior history major Denis O’Neill, her father.
“At first it was real awkward and actually the first week we really didn’t sit together, it was just really strange to actually see my father sitting in the same class with me,” said Karie.
“It was indeed strange at first, almost uncomfortable, I was actually nervous,” said the 51-year-old Denis.
Neither Karie nor Denis knew each had registered for the same class at the time of registration.
Karie is fulfilling her general education requirement while for Denis it is a mandatory class for graduation to become the history teacher he wants to be.
“Early as I remember I have always wanted to teach. However, earlier in my life the smell of money detoured me into other careers,” said Denis. “I have never to this day had a good job that I also had a passion for and that is why I want to teach.”
Denis started his college education at Mt. San Antonio College in 1969.
After completing his two years there, he went on to La Verne College in 1971. Before the completion of his last semester he had a General Dynamics summer job that eventually became his full-time job for the next 10 years.
He then had another job for about five years with an electrician contractor that fell through and then he invested into the insurance business with his father-in-law.
Denis also enjoys working with kids and coaching baseball. He was the junior varsity baseball coach at Pomona High School for two years.
“My wife was the one that encouraged me the most to come back and finish my credentials,” Denis said. “So I sold my percentage of the insurance company and reinvested it into an education.”
As for the class, they are both overachievers according to their professor, Dr. Stephen Sayles.
“I think it is pretty neat that this situation has come into my class. They are both great students and during my 20 years teaching at the collegiate level I have never been a witness to such an event,” said Dr. Sayles.
“As a matter of fact it was not until about two or three weeks into the semester that Dr. Sayles knew that we were even related,” said Denis. “I finally went up to him one day and asked him, ‘You know that is my daughter I sit next to, right?”
Karie also hopes to pursue teaching for the first part of her career.
“I really want to try my hand at teaching for a while and then maybe go into either environmental research or possibly pharmaceutical drug research,” said Karie.
Denis and Karie also agreed that, in fact Karie may have the upper hand on the grade for the class this semester.
“Yeah, she has the better grade, but the semester is not over yet,” said Denis.