For two faculty members, Bainbridge State College truly does run in the family.
Dr. Jim Young, a charter faculty member who taught history at Bainbridge State for more than 28 years, is the father of Dr. Jenny Harper, an associate professor of biology at Bainbridge State where her early memories are of being carried around the College’s halls in her father’s arms.
“Since my daddy taught here and I grew up in Bainbridge, all my memories are centered on this College,” said Dr. Harper. “So much of my childhood and formative years are based around here.”
“These golden memories” include the time she was in Dr. Young’s arms and he stopped in front of a fire alarm, which she decided to pull, setting off the alarm. Other times are remembering her parents hosting pool parties for his Quiz Bowl team members; playing in the wooded area where the Student Wellness Center is now located; tagging along with Plant Operations workers and riding in their motorized carts, and transiting from a high school student to a college student and all the while being able to hang out with her father.
“It was just a special time for me to get to spend those years with Daddy. The transition from high school to my adult life is something I remember fondly because we would go and have lunch together and just sit and talk. I got to know him as an adult for the first time, and that is something I will always cherish,” Dr. Harper said.
Dr. Young said he arrived in Bainbridge from Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1973 because he and his wife wanted to live in a small town, starting a college was appealing to him and Bainbridge just became a “golden trap.”
Forty years later, his daughter has the same sentiment.
When Dr. Harper and her husband, Ridge, had their first child while she was finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Florida, it changed everything, she said.
“I decided to be married to my family first than a job. I always knew that Daddy had a great home life, that he could have a family life while being a college professor,” Dr. Harper said. She taught at the College of Coastal Georgia for four years and when a biology teaching position opened up at Bainbridge State, she jumped at the chance to apply.
There have been students who have had both the father’s class and then the daughter’s class years later. One student they remember in particular is now an employee at Bainbridge State – Roger Johnson.
“You have a non-traditional student who will come back and say ‘I can remember when you were here with your Daddy and you were knee-high to a grasshopper.’ That’s what I hear more often than not,” Dr. Harper said.
The Harpers now have five children, and Ridge is also a member of the Bainbridge State family. He has been with the College for more than four years, and he was recently promoted to director of student success and retention.
The rule in the Young household was that their three children would finish their first two years of college at Bainbridge and then they could go wherever they wanted. Dr. Harper’s older sister has a Ph.D. and her husband has just completed his residency and is starting a practice. Her brother is a chef at an exclusive, gated community in south Florida.
Dr. Harper, who liked animals and the sciences much more than history despite her father’s passion, did not think she would return to be near her parents and live about a mile from her childhood home.
So was Dr. Young surprised that his daughter would follow in his footsteps?
“Lord yes! I knew she would get her Ph.D.; never any doubt about that. But I did not know where she would go. I am happy she is here because I had five good reasons for her being here — four girls and a boy,” Dr. Young said of his five grandchildren.
Dr. Young and his wife, Marion Young, who retired as an educator from John-Johnson Elementary School in Bainbridge, are the grandparents of the Harpers’ children: 9-year-old Shelby, 8-year-old Coby-James, 7-year-old Bay, and 3-year-old twins Sembler and Charlee.
Dr. Harper says she has a great deal of respect for her father and how proud she of seeing how he interacts with those in the community. “I admire a lot about my Daddy, that he’s made some good decisions and that he was a good teacher who touched people. I think that is a wonderful legacy,” Dr. Harper said.
And now to follow his footsteps even further. Dr. Harper, being a working mother with five young children and a zillion other activities going on, wants to teacher her students in her unique way.
“I am trying to make a point to them that you can do everything you want to if you use time management skills. That’s the biggest thing I want to teach my students, that they need to manage themselves appropriately,” Dr. Harper said. “If they get nothing else from me but that, than I am really happy, because that is what life is – using the appropriate time to do the things you need to get done, done.”
And, be with those who mean the most to you.