When Samantha Feulner dons her cap and gown in May 2014, she will become the 14th person in her family to receive a Purdue degree. Hers is a Boilermaker bloodline that runs deep through grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and a sister and brother-in-law.
Even growing up in Minnesota, the pull to Purdue was hard for Samantha to resist. Football weekends. The "All-American" Marching Band. A chance to swim at the Big Ten's. It all put her on the fast track to Purdue, and a partial athletic scholarship and Trustees Scholarship sealed the deal.
- Was there really any other option?
"I tried to keep an open mind about other schools," Sam says. "The big appeal for me was competing in swimming at a school with great academics. I really liked the coaches and the campus when I visited. Purdue ended up being the best choice."
And why risk the awkward silences at family reunions if she had gone elsewhere? Imagine the sideways stares. The whispers: "Yes, she's the one that didn't go to Purdue."
- We're with the band
Even with the long trek from Minnesota, the Feulner family often traveled to football games with a special interest in Purdue's "All-American" Marching Band. "My parents were in the band, and so was my sister," Sam says. "To this day, I'm always the one at games who makes our group stay through halftime so we can see the band."
- In it to swim it
Sam swims sprints mainly. The 50- and 100-yard freestyle. She's part of the women's swimming and diving team that's been making quite the Big Ten splash in recent years. They're smart, too. They've won several President's Cups, awarded to the team (men or women) with the highest overall grade point average.
Swimming is all about timing. Training endless hours in the pool to shave even fractions of a second off a personal best. "My goals for the rest of my career are to score points at a conference dual meet and the Big Ten conference meet," Sam says.
- Nap like it's 1999
Sam balances the challenging major of computer science while spending 20 hours either in the pool or training on dry land. Three days a week she's in the pool by 5:30 a.m. Homework could be a heady exploration of data security, a field she could see herself in someday. With that grueling schedule, what does she do for fun? Her answer: Sleep. Glorious sleep.
"We nap with our free time," she says. "I think swimmers are rather food-obsessed, too, so we spend a lot of time together as a team, eating. And we go to the football and volleyball games. A lot of my friends run track, so I go to their meets as well."
- Legacy links
- Grandfather: Roger Feulner,
BS '61 and MS '63, electrical engineering, Distinguished Engineering Alumnus award '00
- Grandmother: Susan (Myhre) Feulner, BS '62, mathematics
- Father: Christopher Feulner,
BS '87, computer science
- Mother: Mary Beth (Roe) Feulner,
BS '89, education
- Sister: Lauren (Feulner) Brett,
BS '10, management
- Brother-in-law: Kevin Brett,
BS '09, political science
- Plus seven more aunts and uncles