More than alumni
A family with UI roots shares what it is like to be multigenerational Vandals

October 10, 2017

When it came time to decide, there was no doubt in Cathy Mosman’s mind as to where she would attend college.

“We were raised Vandals,” Cathy said.

As a second generation Vandal and active alumni member, she attended the University of Idaho from 1979 to 1983. She later acquired her master’s degree in 1987.

For Cathy’s family, the university is more than just a school — it is their home away from home. Cathy’s parents and siblings are all also part of UI’s alumni base. Each of her children, once they graduate, will be too.

“Being a Vandal is a part of being a family,” Cathy said.

Cathy’s parents, Dwaine and Carolyn Tesnohlidek, were both dedicated Vandals, and it was their commitment that started the legacy that Cathy and her family members carry forth.

Cathy said her father always represented the Vandals, even when it was not the most convenient.

“When he was betting with his friends he would always bet on the Vandals, even if they weren’t doing well,” Cathy said.

She said her father embodied a true UI fan and alumnus.

“When my dad passed away in 2009, they played the fight song at the end of his funeral,” Cathy said.

Like Cathy, the love her parents and siblings all share for the university translated into her children’s lives as well.

Cathy’s two daughters, Maria, a sophomore, and Sarah, a junior, are both UI students and part of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Cathy and her sisters were in the same Greek house when they attended UI.

Cathy’s other daughter, Katie, who also attended UI and was part of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, graduated in 2013. Cathy’s son Ray graduated in 2015. She said both of them helped carry on the family’s Vandal legacy.

“I don’t think my kids ever considered going anywhere else either,” Cathy said.

Cathy’s family not only found a home at the university, but in Greek life as well.

Maria said she loves hearing about the experiences her mother had as a Gamma Phi Beta.

“I really like the atmosphere in the house, it felt like home,” Maria said. “Sometimes when my mom is up here she’ll say things like ‘Oh yeah I used to live in this room too.’”

Maria said she remembers her first time visiting UI’s campus.

“The first event I ever remember attending was when I was about five,” Maria said. “We were at an alumni event before the game and I got to take a picture with Joe Vandal.”

Maria isn’t the only member of the family who remembers football games from an early age. Marie Duncan, Cathy’s niece and the associate director of alumni events, recalls her first Vandal football game on the day she turned 11.

“We woke up at 5 a.m. and  traveled from Fruitland to Moscow in time to have a birthday party for me in the city park and then went to the game afterward,” Duncan said. “It was fun to see my parents interact with the people they went to school with.”

Maria said her family’s school pride is so prevalent that the fight song was one of the first songs she learned as a child.

“I remember learning the Vandal fight song before I really even knew the ABC’s,” Maria said.

“Our kids learned the fight song really early on — Marie taught it to them,” Cathy said.

Duncan has spent the last eight years of her life dedicated to UI in some capacity. She has worked with the Office of Alumni Relations for the past three years.

“I was a part of SArb and was involved with that for four years, and I knew I wanted to stay and work on campus,” Duncan said.

Duncan said Cathy contributed to her dedication to being involved on campus and in the UI community.

“I was raised believing that being an involved Vandal meant giving back time, talent or treasure,” Duncan said.

Agriculture has also played a large role in Cathy’s UI family legacy. Her father graduated in 1958 with a degree in agricultural education and, like her father, Cathy graduated with a degree in agricultural and extension education.

Her daughter Katie graduated with the same degree and continued on to teach agriculture at the high school level. Ray graduated from UI with a degree in agricultural economics and now works with their family farm.

Cathy said it was her professor and adviser that made the greatest impact on her while at UI.

“One of the main reasons I stayed so involved was because of Lou Riesenberg, he was my advisor my freshman year and he had such a strong vision for the university,” she said.

Riesenberg advised Cathy throughout her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She said he helped her find a vision for her university experience.

Cathy said Reisenberg’s dedication to watching the university grow and flourish still has a great impact on her views for UI.

“Being a Vandal is about supporting the Vandals no matter what,” Cathy said.

She said school spirit was abundant while she was at UI. Cathy was part of Collegiate FFA, Block and Bridel, SArb and she held a position within ASUI Senate.

Cath said it is these experiences that have created a bond between her family and the university.

“I am very thankful that my family is a Vandal family,” Cathy said.

Sisters Katie and Maria Mosman pose with Joe Vandal.


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