Veva C. Wilson started the tradition way back in 1912. Her daughter, Carol Wilson Kresses, continued it in 1954, followed by her granddaughter, Kolette C. Kresses, in 1988.
And this past weekend, Veva Wilson’s great-granddaughter, Paige N. Piasecki, made it four generations of women from the same family earning degrees from SUNY Buffalo State.
It almost didn’t happen that way. Piasecki, a graduate of Williamsville South High School, first spent time at Medaille College and Erie Community College.
But because of family tradition, Buffalo State always loomed.
Piasecki remembers walking across the campus with her grandmother when she was a girl, and “every time we would drive by the campus, I would hear stories,” she said. “It was familiar right from the beginning. It was an easy choice for me to apply there.”
Buffalo State was known as State Teachers College at Buffalo when Veva Wilson and her daughter attended – and both of them received teaching degrees. Carol Wilson Kresses taught for many years in the Niagara Falls School District and in Catholic schools in Niagara County, according to her daughter.
Kolette Kresses, now Kolette Piasecki, kept to the tradition of Buffalo State, but instead of education, she studied psychology for her bachelor’s degree. She also earned a law degree in 1991 from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan.
Paige Piasecki, 24, plans to become a teacher like her grandmother. “She’s the one who inspired me,” said Piasecki, who acknowledged sometimes sitting in class at Buffalo State wondering if her grandmother had sat in the very same classroom decades ago. “She was so proud of me for following in her footsteps.”
Carol Wilson Kresses died in 2014 at the age 90, before getting a chance to see Piasecki accept her bachelor’s degree Saturday. Piasecki wore her grandmother’s wedding ring during the commencement ceremony.
“Just to have that reminder,” she said.