Matt Anderson (center) with his
grandmother Ann Anderson
(Class of 1956 and 1970) and father Andy Anderson (Class of
When UNC Asheville senior Matt Anderson, a music technology major
from Asheville, graduates on Saturday, he will mark an important
University milestone. Anderson will become UNC Asheville's first
third-generation graduate. He will join father Andy Anderson, a
physics major from the Class of 1982, and his grandmother Ann
Anderson, a 1956 graduate of Asheville-Biltmore College and biology
major from UNC Asheville's Class of 1970, in the ranks of the some
13,500 University alumni.
"When Matt decided to go to UNC Asheville, that was just normal. It
never occurred to us that we were setting a precedent," said Ann
Anderson. "All three of us realize what the University has done for
us and our families and our ability to contribute in our own ways to
Ann admits that as a high school student she didn't think she would
be able to pursue higher education.
"I entertained no idea of college because it didn't seem possible,
but Asheville-Biltmore College gave me that opportunity."
She completed a two-year diploma with a concentration in chemistry.
In 1969, she returned to school – now UNC Asheville -- to earn a
four-year degree in biology. By that time, Ann was married and had
four children, who often accompanied her to campus while she was in
class or in lab.
"As a kid, I was always on campus," laughed Andy, who recalled
roller skating on the Quad and hanging out in the library.
Upon completion of her degree, Ann went on to a long career in
education, working at Enka High School and North Buncombe High
School. She retired in 2001 but said "it didn't take." She continues
to work part-time at A.C. Reynolds High School helping challenged
students graduate and learn life skills.
"UNC Asheville prepared me well for a teaching career that I enjoyed
thoroughly," she said. "The University offered me the opportunity to
really stretch my mind and my world just expanded. It wasn't a
matter of looking for a way to get a job; it was a matter of looking
for a way to live a life."
Andy recognized his mother's passion for UNC Asheville and it set
his course for college.
"Seeing my mother graduate from UNC Asheville brought me here. I
don't remember even considering anywhere else. When I got ready to
go to college, it was just UNC Asheville," Andy said.
Andy pursued a major in physics and began working at Precision
Products Performance Center while he was a student. He quickly moved
up the company ranks and was running the business when he was 25. He
credits his success, in part, to what he learned at UNC Asheville.
"A lot of what helped me was the liberal arts background that UNC
Asheville gives its students," Andy said. "It exposed me to a lot of
different ideas, which gave me good insight above and beyond the
science of physics to be a good manager and to work with people."
When it came time for Matt to pick a college, Andy was hoping the
choice would be UNC Asheville.
"My mother came to UNC Asheville out of necessity. I came to UNC
Asheville as my only choice. Matthew explored his options and chose
UNC Asheville over other colleges," Andy said.
The University's music technology program sealed the deal for Matt,
who is an active musician.
"UNC Asheville had the exact program I wanted," Matt said. "There
are other schools that have it, but for the price and location, it
was the only choice. It was a no-brainer."
Like his grandmother and father, Matt came to appreciate the close
faculty interaction and liberal arts education, which are UNC
Asheville hallmarks. He cites professors who stayed on campus until
late in the night helping with music recording sessions and the
option to take classes outside his major to expand his learning
"Honestly, in retrospect, I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere
else. This is exactly what I wanted," Matt said.