Father, Daughter and Son-in-Law Graduate Together at 2018 Commencement

Watching a child receive a college diploma is a proud moment for any parent, but sharing the achievement made graduation day even more special for Charles “Chip” Erekson.

At Southern Virginia University’s Commencement ceremony on May fourth, Chip received his diploma together with his daughter, Kadie Hiatt, and her husband, Stockton Hiatt. Chip and Kadie became the first members of their immediate family to graduate from college.

“I’ve said I had to graduate before any of my kids, so it was a good thing I was a little ahead in the alphabet,” Chip joked after the ceremony.

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Stockton Hiatt (left), Kadie Hiatt (center) and Chip Erekson (right) pose for a family picture at Commencement.

Chip earned a degree in English, while Kadie completed a double major in psychology and liberal arts with a minor in family and child development. Stockton’s degree was in business management and leadership.

Earning a bachelor’s degree has even led Chip to consider continuing his education. “I’ll probably go do a master’s degree,” he said. “I want to teach. I wouldn’t have thought that before coming here.”

The family’s involvement with Southern Virginia stretches back many years. Chip originally came to work at the University as a football coach and later decided together with his wife, Antoinett, that he would go back to school to complete his degree. Antoinett, who works on the University staff, has supported her family members as they completed their studies.

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Chip Erekson together with his wife, Antoinett.

“It really wouldn’t have happened without [Antoinett],” Stockton said. “She kind of paved the way for both of them to go to school.”

Stockton came to Southern Virginia to play football and subsequently met Kadie, and the two married last year. “It’s actually a funny story,” Kadie explained. “My dad is the one that recruited him to come play football here, so my dad knew him long before I ever did.”

Kadie and Stockton took advantage of their time at Southern Virginia to develop relationships and become involved in activities inside and outside the classroom. Stockton started as a linebacker on the football team, participated in an internship with the University’s marketing department, and was a member of several academic honor societies. Kadie played for and later managed the women’s basketball team and served as a peer mentor.

“It’s just been a great place for me to get outside of myself in a small environment,” Kadie said, “I think that if I had gone to a big school, I never would have developed into the person that I am today.”

After graduation, the couple packed their belongings and two dogs into a car and drove to Arizona, where they have both accepted full-time job offers. Kadie will start teaching third grade this summer at the American Leadership Academy, located outside of Mesa, while Stockton will begin a job at Knight Transportation’s headquarters in Phoenix.