September 25, 2014 10:00AM
The committee that selected this year’s honorary family for Pittsburg State University’s Family Day celebration said they picked the Joseph family from Lake Saint Louis, Mo., not because they were different, but because they represented so many supportive families of PSU students.
“What we saw was a family that encouraged and supported one another through all the highs and lows that every family experiences,” said Brett Dalton, coordinator of web content and social media at PSU and chair of the selection committee. “Behind nearly every successful student, there is a loving, supportive family and this recognition celebrates all of them.”
The 2014 Honorary Family is Bill and Sherry Joseph, their son, Forest, a junior at PSU, and their daughter, Sara, a PSU senior, who nominated the family.
In her nomination, Sara wrote that as children, she and her brother learned lessons from their parents about the value of hard work, treating all people equally and the importance of keeping an open mind. Their family home became a safe place for Sara’s and Forest’s friends to hang out and even a temporary home for some whose families were going through tough times.
“My mom still refers to them all as her kids,” Sara wrote, “and encourages them as much as she encourages my brother and I.”
Sherry, who earned a BBA from PSU in 1982, and Bill Joseph met in Pittsburg, where he had come to work at the Office of Surface Mining. Bill had a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and took several master’s-level classes at PSU before a job offer took the couple to Denver, Colo.
Sara wrote that her parents met through mutual friends, Rick and Stacey Webb, and were married in Timmons Chapel on the PSU campus. The families remained close and the Webbs are Sara’s godparents.
Despite frequent visits to Pittsburg over the years, Sara wrote that she never really considered going to college at PSU until she took an official campus visit during her junior year in high school.
“I applied to about five universities, knowing that (my parents) would support me in whatever choice I made,” Sara wrote.
The Pitt State visit sealed the deal.
“I immediately fell in love with the campus and the university and I knew it was where I was meant to be,” Sara wrote.
Sara enrolled at PSU in the fall of 2010. Her brother followed when he graduated from high school. Sara and her brother are both highly involved on campus. Sara, a commercial graphics and marketing major, is a member of the Honors College. She is also on the Crimson and Gold dance team, Enactus, University Student Ambassadors, and the Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma and Gamma Epsilon Tau honor societies. She was nominated as a homecoming queen candidate in both 2011 and 2013.
Forest, a graphic communications major, is active in his fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, where he is the public relations chair.
The road hasn’t always been smooth, Sara wrote. In 2011, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was hard, she said, for her and her brother to leave home and return to school.
She was inspired by the way both of her parents tackled the disease.
“Seeing how supportive my dad was of her during her diagnosis, surgery and radiation was inspiring,” Sara wrote. “I only hope that some day I can find someone as incredible as my father.”
Fortunately, the cancer is now gone and Sara wrote that her mother “is happier and healthier than ever.”
Sara wrote that her mother used the experience for good.
“She looked at this as an opportunity to improve herself and also to help others going through this battle by participating in a study,” Sara wrote. “The study was used to see if there is a chance of reducing breast cancer recurrence with weight loss. Not only did this help her lose weight, but it also may help women in her predicament in the future by proving the possibility that weight loss can reduce the recurrence of breast cancer.”
Sara wrote that as she gets older, her appreciation of her parents grows.
“Every day I realize more and more how amazing my parents truly are,” she wrote.
The Bill and Sherry Joseph family were recognized at the Family Day football game.