Over the last four years at Converse, Carson Rehn ’17 bathed elephants, groomed horses, and handled sharks and stingrays. While it has taken a half a century to get her here, Carson isn’t a Converse II student—she’s a legacy. A legacy student is the daughter or granddaughter of a Converse alumna. Carson is what you might call a double-legacy.
Her mother, Evelyn Matthews Rehn, graduated in 1992, and her grandmother, Fran Flournoy Matthews, attended Converse for two years as a member of the Class of 1965. Carson is also a double major, so for many reasons she expected graduation to be double-special.
The Converse tradition is for legacy students to be hooded by their family member who is an alumna. “They said only one person could help with the hooding, but I have two degrees and two family members, so I asked if it were possible for them both to do it,” Carson says. She received an enthusiastic yes, that each would drape her with regalia – one marking her Bachelor of Science in Biology and the other her Bachelor of Arts in German Studies. “It was really awesome that both could be a part,” Carson says, “That made it much more special.”
Legacy students belong to a special breed. In fact, for the last four years Carson has been the recipient of a scholarship through the Kinney Family Scholarship Endowment, which recognizes descendants of an alumna or a student whose sister, aunt, or stepmother attended Converse. The scholarship was established in 2002 by the Kinney Family Scholarship Endowment in memory of the family’s great-grandmother Florence Alexandria McLeod Kinney, Class of 1896; great-aunt Annie Florence Kinney ’28; and in honor of Elizabeth Kinney McNiel ’89.
“This is the perfect story of voice, value, and vision.”
As a newly-minted graduate, this daughter of a military family that moved all over the world is off again, this time to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she will attend veterinary school at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. “This is the perfect story of voice, value, and vision,” says Marianna MacIntyre ’81, who took Carson under her wing the moment Carson arrived on campus from Stuttgart, Germany, where her father, a U.S. Army colonel, had been stationed. “Her grandmother had the vision and used her voice to have her daughter come here, and her daughter did the same, because they recognized the lifelong value of a Converse education.”
Evelyn Rehn remembers her mother singing the Alma Mater—“Watching her children down through the years”—whenever the family drove by Spartanburg. Of the legacy she shares with Carson, Evelyn says: “It’s kind of an honor, I think. Being in a learning environment that’s just female makes strong females. It gives us the confidence to go on and be successful adults. The friendship, the camaraderie, and the love that you feel from the faculty and everybody there—it’s been a stepping stone for all of us.”
“It’s cool to think that, one day, my daughter could go to Converse.”
Carson’s stepping stones at Converse have included working at an elephant preserve in Chiang Mai, Thailand; an externship at an equine hospital in Tryon, N.C.; and at a marine academy in Clearwater, Fla. She was also captain of the Valkyries equestrian team.
Making Converse the place to grow and explore her passions was a choice Carson made all on her own. “Even though they did go here, it was my own decision,” she says. “I decided to come to Converse because I wanted to, but now it’s something we all share. It’s really nice to have that kind of connection, like a keep-it-in-the-family kind of thing. And it’s cool to think that, one day, my daughter could go to Converse.”
Originally published in The Converse Magazine.