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Linfield grads keep it all in the family

damazio-burk1In 2004, while driving to Linfield College for a college tour, Kristen Damazio ‘09 and daughter Heather Burk ‘09 heard a radio ad promoting the Linfield adult degree program. Though the tour was planned for Burk, Damazio listened with interest to the radio advertisement.

 “That planted the seed,” said Damazio, then a student in another continuing education program. “When Heather found out she liked the school so much, I decided to transfer.”

Five years later, they’ve completed their degrees at Linfield, Burk in psychology as a residential student and Damazio in social and behavioral sciences as an adult degree student. Though they pursued different academic experiences, each found their path rewarding.

At Linfield, Burk double minored in music and history, was active in Circle K, intramural sports and choir, and served as an admission ambassador.

 “We’d complain about homework to each other and try to see if we were going to have the same instructors,” said Burk, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in teaching at Northwest University and hopes to teach social studies. “We didn’t see each other but I did get a lot of emails from mom about events that were going on.”

“I figured if I wasn’t able to take advantage of the on-campus experience, she should be doing it for both of us,” Damazio laughed. “I felt like I was involved with what was going on, even though I wasn’t there.”

Damazio, a former events planner, worked full time and traveled extensively while completing her degree at Linfield. With her busy schedule, she appreciated the flexibility of online classes. She especially appreciated the thoughtful class discussions, carried out through online postings on a discussion board.

“I felt like I learned more because people could include links and personal experiences when they responded,” she said. “That helped round out the whole learning experience. I liked the one-on-one attention from professors. I didn’t feel like a number.”

Damazio was recently named corporate and media relations manager for Food Lifeline, the largest hunger relief organization in western Washington. She might eventually pursue an advanced degree as well, with aspirations of working with alcohol and substance abuse.

When it came time to graduate, Damazio tried to downplay her own achievement so as not to overshadow her daughter. But it was Burk who celebrated her mother, sitting together during baccalaureate and three rows apart on commencement day.

“It was a big day for both of us and cool that we got to share it,” Burk said.