Douglas siblings took on Sussex, now the world

09 Jun 2020 | 03:02

When Tara Douglas first stepped onto the Sussex County Community College campus in Fall 2018, it didn’t feel like a momentous occasion. And yet, with that step, a family legacy continued.

That’s because her three older siblings and her father have all attended and graduated with their degree from Sussex.

Now entering her second year at Sussex, Tara, a Liberal Arts major who plays on the school’s lacrosse team, looks back at her choice and has no regrets.

The convenient location to home was a big draw, she admitted, but the real reason she chose Sussex was because she’d seen firsthand the importance of starting there first.

“The professors that I have experienced made me feel comfortable, especially during the pandemic and the transition to online classes,” said Tara, whose family lives in Stillwater. “I chose to start at Sussex because my siblings all started there and I saw where it took them. I wanted the same thing.”

Her elder siblings have gone on to an array of fields, each carving success along the way. For example, Connor, the eldest, now works in quality control at a pharmaceutical company. Using dual-enrollment credits at Kittatinny Regional High School, where they all attended, he was easily able to earn his Associate Degree in Biology a semester early. He was pleased with the smooth transition to Appalachian State University upon graduation, where he studied cellular and molecular biology.

“It was really our parents who instilled the idea that County would be the best option for us,” said Maureen, the second eldest. “It was not only the best financial decision for all of us, but from our father, we knew the instruction at Sussex specifically was superb.”

Now a graduate student at Montclair State University working towards a master’s degree in Teaching with Special Education Certification, Maureen was active in the Sussex community, taking part in the Performing Arts Club.

“My favorite part of SCCC was the welcoming atmosphere fostered by the professors,” she said. “With a smaller professor to student ratio at County, I was able to develop a better student-professor relationship, and I felt like each professor knew our individual needs.”

Maureen and her younger sister, Erin, share more than just their love of the outdoors, they share their love of Sussex (and smarts – both sisters were in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society). However, Erin has said that the fact that her older siblings attended the school didn’t affect her decision much.

“I don’t think that the fact that Connor and Maureen went to Sussex influenced my decision to go there, as I really always knew it is where I wanted to start out, but seeing them be so successful at Sussex and also wherever they went next definitely made me feel more secure about my decision,” she said.

What she most valued during her time at Sussex was learning useful life skills, like “how to confidently and successfully speak in front of a crowd, how to manage my time efficiently, and how to write a well-supported research paper – skills I will need for the rest of my life.”

She is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Audiology program at Montclair State University.

The siblings spend a lot of time together, sitting around bonfires at their parents’ house and celebrating each other’s successes, and, if they ever run out of things to talk about, there’s always Sussex.