For father Steven Twomey, going back to school was made a little easier thanks to a special fellow student: his son, Cameron.
The father-son duo will graduate from Salem State University together in May 2021 thanks to what Steven says is mostly coincidence, with a little bit of coordination. Steven, a 54-year-old Salem firefighter living in Marblehead, is a 1989 Salem State geography alum who will graduate this spring with his second degree: a Bachelor of Science in fire science administration. His son Cameron Twomey, who lives in Beverly, will receive a Bachelor of Science in business administration.
Though Cameron and his father did not take any courses together at the same time, they often shared resources and advice.
“Cam was like my advisor about classes,” said Steven. Whether it was a question about Microsoft Excel or registering for micro versus macroeconomics, Steven could consult his son about almost anything. “I went to Cam to check for help, and he did put me at ease.”
The support was mutual, according to Cameron.
“You know, we kind of kept each other in check. ‘You do this, you do that, make sure you're turning your stuff in on time,’” Cameron said. “We shared books and shared a lot of conversations about classes. We talked a lot about professors that we've had, and assignments and stuff.”
Their majors share some overlap in course requirements, despite belonging to different areas of study. The fire science administration program is offered through the division of Continuing and Professional Studies within Salem State’s department of economics, while the business administration program is offered in the Bertolon School of Business.
Steven entered the fire science program as a continuing education student in 2019, two years after his son began a more traditional undergraduate journey at the university. While they did not spend much time together on campus as Steven completed his program online, the two quickly realized their graduation dates might align.
“I'm like, ‘hey, you know, we might be able to graduate together in two years.’ It was a long-standing joke, actually,” said Steven. What began as a joke about walking across the graduation stage together soon became a form of inspiration for Steven to stay on track. He started to keep close tabs on his academic flowsheet while racing toward the goal of a spring 2021 graduation date.
“There was pressure on me to make sure I took summer classes and intersession classes, and make sure I do winter session...to make sure I was on track to finish this semester,” Steven said.
The Twomeys had similar favorite courses at Salem State, including macroeconomics and their 403 MGT “Leadership in Management” course with accounting and finance Associate Professor John McArdle. Both Cameron and Steven said Professor McArdle provided valuable leadership lessons that will help them in their next career steps: Cameron as he aspires to work in real estate, and Steven as a fire administrator. In his recent Massachusetts promotional exam — a voluntary test to become a Deputy Fire Chief — Steven said he felt well-prepared thanks to his Salem State administration courses.
“It was good timing for me to take a test that incorporated some leadership and management,” he said.
To celebrate their graduation milestones, Cameron and Steven had their senior portraits photographed at Salem State, including a photo with the two of them together. They plan to watch the 2021 virtual commencement together on May 22 before going out for a celebratory dinner.
Cameron said sharing his college experience with his father was “unique” at times, but that he is very proud of his father’s achievements. Steven is a proud father, too.
“It’s not easy, and Salem State I think is a very challenging school,” Steven said, adding he is “amazed” by his son’s straight A’s and commitment to his coursework. “It’s not about me, it’s about him,” Steven said of his son’s academic accomplishments.
To which Cameron replied, “Hey man, you deserve some credit too.”