Turning the Page, Coming of Age: A Journey of Education Between Fathers and Sons By Morrow Duszynski

At the UAF College of Business and Security Management, we often refer to our staff, faculty and students as family, and in some cases, it is meant literally. Through two unique families, we see firsthand the connection, support and fulfillment in these relationships and the long-term impact they hold individually and on the community, on and off of campus. The Wolvertons and McGees have father and son duos who have pursued their degrees at CBSM. These family dynamics show us what it means to hold each other accountable, share advice, learn from one another and the importance of soaking up each moment with loved ones. Whether it be recommending a class, checking in on each other’s homework, gaining feedback on instruction, or deciding a career path, these exchanges have been pivotal in each others’ journey.

Jim Wolverton, second from right, and son, Mason Wolverton, right, pose with family.

The Wolvertons: Jim and his son Mason

Jim Wolverton and his son, Mason Wolverton are a dynamic duo within the CBSM team.

Jim, a retired veteran, is currently the office coordinator and a student studying applied management at CBSM. Mason is an accounting student and is a student assistant, supporting faculty teaching classes. They can be seen grabbing lunch together at the Wood Center, checking in on each other during their workdays and if it were up to them, they would carpool to campus regularly, but alas busy schedules keep them from doing so.

They have had many opportunities to collaborate and learn more about each other through pursuing their degrees at the same time, and at the same college.

“This fall, Mason and I created over 30 cottonwood centerpieces for the UAF Business Leader of the Year with trees from our lot. Mason lives in a cabin on our property and comes into the house often, but he is an adult with his own life and his schedule. I don't get to see him or do things with him as often, and I miss that sometimes; it was nice to have a shared project to work on together.” - Jim Wolverton
Left: Jim and Mason Wolverton working on a project together. Right: A table at UAF Business Leader of the Year highlighted with a cottonwood centerpiece crafted by the Wolvertons. Photo by Sarah Lewis Photography.

For many young adults, there is a turning point as they mature where parents shed their authority and become more relatable.

Mason Wolverton, right, takes selfie with parents.
“Now, I get to see the human behind the titles, "Dad" and "Mom", connect with them both on a deeper level and see their struggles and interests. I was blessed to develop this deeper connection and see the person behind the authority. My dad remains my primary role model. Seeing what he is like in a professional environment, and how he conducts himself around others has boosted my respect for him and desire to emulate his respectful and amiable nature.” - Mason Wolverton

Through providing class recommendations, “commiserating” on homework together, as Mason would put it, and seeing each other in different environments, the Wolvertons have built a deeper bond. The respect they hold for one another is unmistakable. Their shared experience at CBSM has not only brought them closer together but also allowed them to grow both individually and as a team. They have gained new skills, expanded their knowledge, and developed a strong bond that will last far beyond graduation.

Left: Mason Wolverton posing with mountains on a roadtrip. Top right: A Wolverton family throwback. Bottom right: Mason enjoys another day in the office at CBSM. Photos provided by Jim Wolverton.

The McGees: Big Sean and his sons, John and Little Sean

The McGees; another family that has made an enduring impression on CBSM, both professionally and personally. Sean McGee Sr., or “Big Sean” as he is called, is the former Chief of Police at UAF, former Homeland and Security Management (HSEM) program director and currently an instructor of HSEM. His three children, John, Megan and Sean have all been CBSM students, employees, or both and are frequently brought up in conversation among staff and faculty, prompting big smiles and fond memories.

Sean ‘Big Sean’ McGee stands with family including sons, Sean ‘Little Sean’ McGee, first from left, and John McGee, third from right, in the UAF Margaret Murie Building.
“Sharing the UAF experience as both an alumni and a faculty member, along with my family has given me a unique perspective on our academic and personal journeys. Bringing my family into my daily routine has enriched my life and allows us to share countless small, yet significant, moments. Career-wise, witnessing my children's experiences and feedback has shaped my approach as a faculty member, making me more empathetic and attuned to student needs and perspectives.” - Sean McGee aka “Big Sean”

In 2010, John McGee was a student firefighter alongside his father as Chief of Police. Throughout this time, they worked in the same building, were able to go on emergency calls together and would talk through the radio from time to time, something John had dreamed of as a kid. For part of his studies, John migrated to the UAF Office of Career Services while his father began his journey as an instructor and eventually a program director for CBSM, where John graduated with a Bachelor’s in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Although Sean and John no longer worked in the same building, they still met around campus for coffee breaks.

John McGee poses in uniform with peer Lillian Hampton when he was a student firefighter in 2011. UAF Photo by Todd Paris.
“The University of Alaska is my home. This is where I grew up. I spent many hours of my childhood hanging out at the UAF police station, in the Eielson Building and Signer's Hall. I played hundreds of hours of hockey at the Patty Center, sledded at the SRC Hill and went to classes in the Gruening Building. Unfortunately, due to a diagnosis of an aggressive autoimmune disorder preventing hard labor, firefighting was not in the cards as a career choice. That didn’t stop me from finding another position in the UA System Office where I can still help people. Thanks, Dad.” - John McGee

There is another Sean McGee at CBSM, known as “Little Sean”. He has been an integral part of the team for years as a student assistant in the dean’s office, greeting students, staff and faculty members with a smile. Prior to his position at CBSM, he was also a member of the firefighting academy at the UAF Community and Technical College. He was encouraged by his father and sister to apply for his current position at CBSM, where he then began his degree in the Bachelor of Applied Management program.

Little Sean, first from right, stands with his dog Mogley and family.
“One of the most enriching aspects of attending classes on campus has been the opportunity to frequently visit my father's office. We have established a routine where we carpool to campus. Our mornings typically start with grabbing a cup of coffee together, a simple yet significant ritual that sets the tone for the rest of our day.” - Sean ‘Little Sean’ McGee.

Sean will be graduating this fall of 2023 and while we are sad to see him go, the CBSM team couldn’t be more excited for him to start on his new career path.

“Coming from a family where my father, mother, brother, and sister are all proud UAF alumni, each with degrees in distinct fields, has endowed me with a unique advantage in my own academic pursuits. This supportive and nurturing environment fostered not only my academic growth but also my professional aspirations. The commitment of the CBSM faculty to student success has been a critical element in my educational journey, shaping me into a more confident and capable individual ready to face the professional world.” -Sean ‘Little Sean’ McGee
John Mcgee, left, Sean 'Little Sean' McGee, right, stand with parents at their sister's gradation.

Bringing it Home

The Wolverton and McGee families have shared experiences that many can only dream of. Whether carpooling to work in the morning, handcrafting cottonwood centerpieces, or sharing a cup of coffee, they have developed relationships as fathers and sons that will last a lifetime. Witnessing these dynamics shows the amount of support and dedication that is possible, and is an inspiration to remain present and nurture connections on campus, in the community and at home.

As they embark on their future endeavors, these families will always remember their time at UAF as a special chapter in their lives. They will carry the lessons learned and memories made with them as they continue to grow and succeed in the business world. As we say goodbye to another semester, let us remember the importance of growth and connection in our academic journeys. Whether it be with family, friends, or classmates, the relationships we build and the knowledge we gain are invaluable.