History will repeat itself during Kettering University’s Commencement Ceremony on June 18 when Michele Loper and her son Justin Loper ‘16 share the graduation stage for the second time.
Michele Loper, current school board president for Beecher Community Schools, had the privilege of signing and handing Justin’s diploma to him on the high school stage in 2011.
“When I graduated from high school, my mom was the school board president,” Justin said. “I gave her a hug and had an emotional moment with her on stage. There was a giant ‘awwww’ in the audience.”
Now, mother-and-son will do it again at Kettering’s commencement as Michele receives her master’s in Business Administration (MBA) while Justin completes his undergraduate Industrial Engineering degree.
“To be able to share the stage with him again is going to be amazing,” Michele said. “That’s the cherry on top, sharing the stage with him for a second time.”
Michele completed her undergraduate degree in Communications at the University of Michigan-Flint in 1988. She joined Kettering’s Financial Aid department in 2001 and earned a master’s in Operations Management in 2006. From 2006 to 2008, she worked in Academic Services. In 2008, Michele joined University Advancement where she currently serves as the Assistant Director of Special Events.
“I wanted to come back for the MBA because eventually I want to pursue a doctorate degree. So I thought it would be nice to have the second master’s so I can prepare for those programs,” Michele said. “I also thought it would help me with my job right now. I thought it would be help me be more efficient with my current roles and responsibilities.”
Justin was a member of the Kettering-sponsored Metal Muscle FIRST Robotics team in high school which paved the way for him to attend Kettering. He majored in Industrial Engineering and completed his co-op at Design Systems Incorporated in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Justin cited the opportunity to gain work experience throughout his college career as the primary reason why he chose to attend Kettering.
“I had a job since I was 14-years-old so I was pretty used to working,” Justin said. “I wanted to keep working in the field that I was interested in right off the bat.”
As each of their semesters converged towards commencement, Michele approached Justin to see if it would be okay for her to join him on stage.
“She was hesitant about it because she didn’t want to take away from my spotlight and graduation but I was all for it,” Justin said. “You don’t see an example like ours very often.”
Justin is the first of his siblings to graduate from University. His younger sister is currently an undergraduate at Wayne State University and will be present to watch her brother and mother receive their respective degrees on June 18.
“It will probably be emotional and joyful, a combination of all that,” Michele said. “Justin was 6-years-old when I hired in at Kettering. It was one of my dreams and goals for him to graduate from Kettering. To see my dream come to fruition, it’s going to be emotional for me. It will be very emotional. It’s a dream come true.”