For the five siblings attending Middle Tennessee State University simultaneously, there has been nothing more special than sharing the experience together.
“Being together is a step up from just hanging out with friends,” said Joseph Fisher, the second-youngest sibling of the group of five and a junior in the Aerospace Program. “There is a level of comfort with this sort of companionship that helps us get through the semester.”
Joseph gets to bump shoulders at family gatherings and on campus with his sisters and fellow Blue Raiders Amanda Fisher, the eldest and a sophomore in business management, Calliope Fisher, the second oldest of the group and a senior in general science and animal science, Gabriela Fisher, the middle child of the group and a senior in business management, and Raquel Fisher, the youngest of the group and a sophomore who is undecided on a major but interested in nursing.
“It’s a blast!” said Calliope. “It’s truly unlike anything I have ever experienced with my siblings before. We are all doing our own thing, yet all basically doing the same thing. It is so rewarding to see all of us being challenged, and I love witnessing how we support each other through this experience.”
All five siblings grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, with their parents Paul and Dawn Fisher and were homeschooled, the eldest siblings not earning an American-equivalent high school diploma.
Amanda, now 36 years old, was the first to move to the U.S. when she came to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 2016 with her husband and children and took in Calliope and Gabriela three years later. The two younger sisters were the first to become “True Blue” in fall 2020 after working and earning their GED diplomas.
“I do not feel like I chose MTSU — it chose me,” said Calliope, who had lost hope of attending college after being unable to earn a high school equivalent diploma in Mexico. “My oldest sister and her husband opened their home to me and encouraged me to work, save money and get a GED…. I was encouraged by coworkers and members of my church to check out MTSU. I decided to visit to get information, and as soon as I stepped foot on campus, I was sold.”
Gabriela and Raquel chose MTSU after visiting the beautiful campus.
“I was feeling a bit anxious about starting college since I was homeschooled my whole life and didn’t know what to expect, but the lovely recruiting counselor, October Henson, was a huge help,” Gabriela said. “She answered all my questions, offered encouragement, and eased my nerves regarding starting college at MTSU.”
“I was hearing many good things about MTSU from my siblings’ and friends’ academic and social experiences … (and) my older siblings promised to be my guides,” said Raquel, who started her MTSU journey last fall. “I have absolutely no regrets regarding my decision. My college experience has been amazing since the beginning.”
When Amanda encouraged Calliope and Gabriela to earn their GEDs and apply to MTSU, she had no clue she would one day be joining them.
“MTSU also offers a lot to someone like me — a nontraditional student — which made the decision to go back to school easier,” Amanda said. “Going back to school as an adult can be daunting but knowing my sisters were already there made it less scary too.”
Joseph said, in addition to attending with his siblings, everything about his MTSU experience has been amazing for the family, especially the bevy of resources after coming from their homeschool background.
“I remember during my private pilot training, I was feeling a bit nervous at one time, and I received a personal phone call from the head flight instructor (Lloyd Brown),” he said. “He checked in on me and gave me an encouraging talk. Moments like this really helped me strive during some of the toughest of academic hardships.”
Raquel loves the university’s diverse community, and Gabriela loves the Campus Recreation Center where she can destress and keep her mind and body healthy.
“I love all the hands-on learning MTSU has to offer,” Calliope said. “I have gotten real-life experience managing livestock at the MTSU farms and have learned how to perform advanced experiments in the labs of the beautiful Science Building.”
“The June Anderson Center is an incredible resource for any nontraditional students on campus,” said Amanda. “The staff is incredible and have helped make me feel at home since day one. I must also mention some of the phenomenal professors…. They went above and beyond in their classes, which has been an enlightening and truly positive experience for me.”
Amanda said their group of five is only half of all the Fisher siblings and that there may be more True Blue Fishers to come.
“We hope the youngest becomes a Blue Raider too after he graduates high school next year,” she said.
— Stephanie Wagner (Stephanie.Wagner@mtsu.edu)