Anne Carroll-Amerine hasn’t had a typical college experience, so it’s perhaps fitting that her graduation will be an unusual one as well.
She will be one of the 600-plus Abilene Christian University graduates who have signed up to walk the stage at this weekend’s Commencement ceremonies at Wildcat Stadium. May graduation was rescheduled for Aug. 7-8 and moved outdoors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anne also holds the distinction of being the seventh and last of the Carroll siblings to graduate from ACU. For 20 consecutive years, Donnie (’77) and Lisa (Spann ’79) Carroll have had at least one child enrolled at Abilene Christian, and at one point five Carrolls were in school at the same time. In 2004-05, Lisa was earning her teacher certificate, son Geoff was in graduate school, daughter Amber was a junior, son Jonathan a sophomore and daughter Caryn a freshman.
In addition to the usual coursework, the youngest Carroll’s college experience included some unconventional twists: courtship with a fellow student, John Amerine, who then joined the U.S. Marines; a military deployment shortly after their engagement during which time Anne studied abroad in Oxford; a wedding in Abilene; a move to Camp Pendleton in California, where they spent the summer in base housing; and another separation while John was deployed a second time and Anne returned to Abilene to complete her final year at ACU.
Ironically, it was the pandemic that brought them back together in one place. John returned from his second deployment just as COVID-19 began spreading worldwide and classes at ACU officially went online, which allowed Anne to join her husband back in California.
Even with the challenges of combining college life and military life, Anne managed to graduate in three years with a Bachelor of Science in psychology.
“Thankfully, I had almost 40 hours of college credit under my belt due to dual credit and was able to graduate a whole year early,” she said.
Those three years were packed with experiences she will never forget.
“Not many full-time university students are also in a long-distance relationship governed by military orders,” she said. “This made days extremely emotional – you can ask my friends I studied abroad with. I cried every time I got a call from John, which was only once a week, by the way.”
But she also met some of her closest friends while studying abroad, “and I am so thankful for that experience,” she said.
In June, Anne took a job as a behavioral therapist, working primarily with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). “I absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s such a fulfilling job, and even though some days I feel defeated, I know that I have the capability of really helping these kids.”
This fall, she plans to apply to graduate schools and doctorate programs to pursue a career in forensic psychology.
Lisa and Donnie are thrilled to be able to celebrate their family milestone in person this weekend. They aren’t sure how many family members will attend the ceremony – “babies, distance and the pandemic affect this,” Lisa said. “But all who cannot be there appreciate the livestream option. It’s pretty cool that our kids can watch from Africa.”
“The college experience is just different when you’re married, and adding the military challenges took a lot of gumption for both of them,” Lisa said. “I’m proud of them. The sacrifices paid off.”
Says dad Donnie, “ACU has helped shape who they’ve become. It’s great to have our last one graduate, and who knows, with our grandkids we may have another generation of Wildcats!”
A purple and white legacy
With Anne’s graduation, all seven of Donnie and Lisa’s children now hold degrees from Abilene Christian, and all but one of their spouses attended ACU. “Some people have asked if we pushed ACU on our children,” said Lisa. “We didn’t, but I love that they chose this route. We are a part of the ACU legacy, and I love the bond of shared experiences.”
Members of the Carroll clan live and work in locations spanning the globe from Abilene to Africa:
- Donnie and Lisa live in Abilene, where they serve as house parents for Hendrick Home for Children.
- Geoff (’04) and Jamie (Pittenger ’05) Carroll live in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and own Travel the Text, giving biblical study tours to Israel, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
- Amber Joy (Carroll ’06) and Kent Brantly, M.D., (’03) live in Zambia, Africa. Kent is a doctor at Mukinge Mission Hospital. After the pandemic, Amber hopes to get involved in the nursing school there, which is temporarily shut down.
- Jonathan (’13) and Allison (Gervais ’06) Carroll live in Abilene, where Jonathan is the marketing coordinator for Eddye Dreyer Financial Services, and Allison owns Monks Coffee Shop. Jonathan began at ACU with the class of ’07, took a “school sabbatical” and returned to graduate in 2013.
- Caryn (Carroll ’08) and Carl Hooper live in Abilene. Carl is the band director and Caryn is the speech pathologist for Eula ISD.
- Keith (’13) and Morgan (Sconiers ’12) Carroll live in Abilene. Keith is the director of business analytics at Funeral Directors Life Insurance, and Morgan is a physician’s assistant at Abilene Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center.
- Kevin Carroll (’16) lives in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and is a wildland firefighter for Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office.
- Anne Carroll-Amerine (’20) and Cpl. John Amerine (’16) live at Camp Pendleton in California where John works as a combat engineer and Anne is a behavioral therapist.