Wiley resident becomes fourth-generation Boilermaker

To say that Whitney Stedman is a legacy student at Purdue would be an understatement. When Stedman started classes in West Lafayette this fall, she followed in the footsteps of many family members before her, dating back four generations to her great-grandfather, Robert Bonnet. For Stedman, who will be part of the graduating class of 2019, it was an easy decision to continue a family legacy that began in the 1920s.

“I was born in Lafayette, and my entire family has gone to Purdue. My mom went there, my grandma, my great-grandpa, both of my uncles – I just grew up having that as the school I wanted to go to for a long time,” Stedman said.

Stedman made many trips to campus as a child, with some of her more vivid memories including a longstanding Purdue tradition.

“My grandma took me to campus countless times when I was little, but what I remember most is the Bug Bowl,” Stedman said. “My dad took me when he worked there, showing me around campus, because he knew that’s where I wanted to go, even when I was little.”

Whitney’s mother, Anna Stedman, shared a similar inclination toward Purdue as a third-generation Boilermaker, along with her two brothers (Whitney’s uncles).

“We grew up in a household where Purdue was a big part of our lives,” said Anna, who graduated in 1995 with a degree in economics. “We’d been involved with it in the very beginning, and it was close to home, so there really wasn’t any question for me where I would go to school. We were lucky to have a school as good as Purdue so close to home.”

Whitney’s grandmother, Vicki Harbath, enrolled in the first nursing program Purdue ever offered in the 1960s, a major that Whitney has taken up herself.Stedmans-Moving-In

“I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field,” Whitney said. “I actually didn’t know until I toured Purdue that my grandma graduated in the first class of nursing at Purdue. That kind of got to me, so I applied to nursing instead of veterinary medicine like I had planned to do.”

Vicki, who brought countless Boilermakers into this world in more than three decades as a labor and delivery nurse, couldn’t believe her granddaughter was entering the same program she completed years ago.

“I was really surprised because she’d always said she wanted to be a vet, so I thought that’s what she’d do. But her mom said, ‘Whitney’s decided to go to nursing school at Purdue’ and I said ‘Really!?’”

Four generations and two nurses later, the family tradition continues at Purdue.

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Elizabeth Hartley, Tammy Loew, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Elizabeth Hartley | Inquiries Contact: studentlifemarketing@purdue.edu