It didn’t take long for Sarah Cutler to show her true colors as a child. While the first words she spoke were “Momma” and “Daddy,” her mother says the first phrase Sarah uttered was “Go Wolfpack!”
That’s because Sarah was the latest in a long line of Wolfpackers in her family. Her mother, Ann Gentry Cutler, and her grandfather, Howell Gentry, both graduated from NC State, as did several other members of her extended family. Her younger brother, Brad, plans to attend NC State after he finishes high school.
Sarah is now a junior at NC State, majoring in mathematics and math education. And she and her family will be recognized during the Wolfpack game against Wake Forest on Saturday as the 2012 NC State Family of the Year, an award given out by the Office of Parents and Families Services. The recognition is part of Parents and Families Weekend at NC State.
“Our family history is so intertwined with the university,” says Ann Cutler, a 1982 graduate. “It’s home to us.”
The Wolfpack connection started with Howell Gentry, a 1958 graduate who was the first person in his family to graduate from college. He was already married when he came to NC State – he earned money by milking cows in the university dairy each morning while his wife worked in Kilgore Hall as a secretary for the horticulture department. He went on to work as superintendent of an NC State research station in Reidsville, N.C.
“My whole life, between my dad going to school there and then working for the university, there was a real connection,” says Ann Cutler.
Cutler was a finalist from her high school to be a Morehead Scholar at UNC. But she showed up for the interview wearing red, and knew even then that NC State was the place for her.
“To me, it was just like being at home,” she says. “I was so used to being on campus.”
When it was time for Sarah Cutler to consider college, her dad encouraged her to look at some schools other than NC State. You see, her dad is one of the few family members who didn’t go to NC State, although they all say he’s a strong Wolfpack fan.
“He thought she might be a little brainwashed, so we did take her to other college campuses,” says Ann Cutler. “It was enlightening for her and for us, but it always came back to NC State.”
Sarah Cutler, who nominated her family for the award, says she loves the faculty, staff and students at NC State. She plays the mellophone in the NC State marching band and, like her mother before her, is active in the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.
“Even though State was so big, the College of Education felt like more of a small family,” says Sarah, whose family is from the small town of Bethany, N.C. “I feel like I have the best of both worlds here – the advantages of a big university but the feel of a small community.”
But while she feels support from her friends and professors at NC State, Sarah Cutler still relies on her family. She talks to her mom by telephone every day and her dad often stops by to take her to lunch when he is in town for business. They are always in the stands to watch her perform with the band.
“My family has supported me and encouraged me to keep a level head and step outside my comfort zone at times,” she says.