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Three generations of Wildcats

By Georgeanne Barrett
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 22, 2004
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Matthew and Stephanie Rukasin don't have to worry about telling their parents about family weekend, or finding people to go to UA football and basketball games with. They are the fourth generation of a true Wildcat family.

The Rukasin family history started at the UA with a great-grandfather who was a professor, followed by his children, their children and one more generation after that.

Kay Rukasin, Matthew and Stephanie's mother, graduated from the UA in 1969 with a bachelor's degree and later earned a master's degree in elementary education. Kay Rukasin said she has been proud to follow in her parents' footsteps by attending the UA, and seeing her children do the same.

Her parents graduated from the UA in 1938.

Kay said her grandfather, Ernest Anderson, came to the UA as a professor and eventually helped found the chemistry department, which he then headed for more than 30 years.

"I think it's a real legacy that we have all gone to the UA," Kay said. "We all have different views on our experiences, and it is a common strand we all have."

Kay's husband, Mike Rukasin, graduated from the UA in 1972 with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, and was the owner and pharmacist of the University Drug store until it closed in 2002. University Drug was on the corner of East University Boulevard and North Park Avenue.

All three of Kay and Mike's children decided to follow in the family footsteps and attend the UA. The oldest son Robert graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in renewable natural resources. Matthew Rukasin is a pharmacy junior, while the youngest, Stephanie Rukasin, is a history sophomore.

"We like to compare the olden days to now, and remember how the campus has changed," Kay said.

Both Kay and Mike said they were proud to see all their children go to the UA, and they are like many Wildcat families who would be shamed to see their kids go to Arizona State University.

"I'm just glad they went to college - UA was just a plus," Mike said. "Matthew could have gone to ASU, but he didn't just because it was ASU."

Both Kay and Mike have been very active in organizations at the UA. Before their children were old enough to go to college they said they were participants in the Ma and Pa club, which helped students who did not have families nearby.

The Rukasins said they would have students over to their house for dinner, a chance to do laundry, and even to take their kids trick-or-treating.

"We have always had college kids around," Mike said. "We will be forever a part of this community."

Kay and Mike said they are sponsors of the Arizona State Museum, football camps, and many other UA organizations.

While attending the UA, Kay said she was in the marching band and very involved with campus life activities. None of her children ever lived on campus, but she is glad to see they all still had great experiences on campus that remind her of her own.

"I was thinking the kids would get into campus life like I did," Kay said. "I thought they would get the thrill campus life offers. They certainly have more options of campus activities than I had."

Everyone in the Rukasin family is an avid UA fan, and the family enjoys supporting the school and spending time together by religiously attending football and basketball games.

"Since the day I was born I've been bleeding red and blue," Matthew Rukasin, the middle child in the family, said. "I have just been brought up such a UA fan."

Matthew said he likes that his family is unique by having had so many generations attend the UA.

"It's neat - how often does that happen?" Matthew said. "I would definitely influence my kids to go the UA."

Kay Rukasin said one of the things that means the most to her about being a Wildcat family is how the campus and standard of teaching has not changed much since her days as a student.

"The standards and values are still there while the technology has changed," Kay said. "Also, I would have liked having notes on the Internet like the kids do now."

Stephanie Rukasin, who is the youngest in the family, said she appreciates the common bond her family shares by all attending the same university.

"It's good to know I have my parents' support since they went to the UA," Stephanie said.

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