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Craig Munsee had just been laid off as an electrical engineer from HP. His oldest daughter, Rebecca, was graduating from Philomath High School and considering her next steps.

Both of them decided to enroll at Linn-Benton Community College — and now both will graduate Monday, June 18 with associate's degrees in the Mechatronics/Industrial Automation Technology program.

Monday's event is LBCC's 50th commencement ceremony. It will be held at 7 p.m. at the Linn County Fair and Expo Willamette Event Center in Albany. Doors open 6 and no tickets are needed to attend.

Neither of the Munsees plan to be a part of the commencement — Rebecca works the night shift at her new job that night — but both say they're proud of their accomplishment and recommend the experience to anyone else who might be contemplating a family enrollment.

At LBCC, Craig said, he's found class sizes to be reasonable and prices good. Instructors care about their students and the programs are strong, he said.

"I think it's one of our best-kept secrets," he said.

Becoming a part of the mechatronics program was a natural choice for both. Rebecca had really enjoyed being involved with the PHRED robotics team at Philomath High School and calls mechatronics "almost like robotics on steroids." 

She and her father toured the college's industrial programs in 2016 with Dave Mack, the program's faculty and department chair.

Craig had studied engineering at LBCC in 1999 but had never experienced hydraulics, pneumatics and some of the other engineering opportunities the college now offered. He found himself admiring "all the cool stuff she'd get to work with," and decided it might work for him as well.

He remembers asking Rebecca: "Would you be terribly upset if your dad went to school with you?"

Rebecca recalls her answer: "I said that would be fine." 

So two years ago both enrolled and received similar, although not identical, class schedules. Craig had already satisfied some of the college's requirements during his first round at LBCC, and Rebecca had checked some off while still a student at Philomath.

But they had several classes together, which both said they really enjoyed.

"It was kind of nice knowing somebody when you go in class the first day," Rebecca said. "A good student." 

Craig said the two often studied together, and being in the same class was a bonus when lab work needed to be completed outside of class.

Who got the better grades? Rebecca pointed at her father without hesitation. Craig laughed. "I'll admit there was a competition going on."

Both got job offers while enrolled at LBCC. Craig had applied to be part of the faculty before he became a student, and was offered a job first as a part-time instructor, and then as a full-time faculty member in engineering. He took the place of John Sweet, an instructor who'd taught him back in 1999.

Rebecca had been working part time started work this week with Kforce as a 3D technician working with 3D printers. Kforce contracts with HP, which was ironic but also potentially helpful: Rebecca's interviewer mentioned knowing Craig.

"I didn't take the layoff bad," Craig said with a shrug. "It was just one of those situations." 

The future after graduation isn't certain for either, but both intend to keep working where they've landed. And while Craig doesn't think it's likely, he's open to another father-daughter enrollment if his younger daughter, Sarah, chooses LBCC after graduation. As a faculty member, he can opt to continue taking classes at the community college.

"I'll be taking advantage of those things," he said.

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