Growing up, Avery Richardson ’17 wasn’t sure his father’s alma mater was even real.
“He’s a corny guy, and my mom would joke, ‘Did you even go to college?’” Avery said. “He’d talk about Pacific, and it sounded like he made it up.”
Carl Richardson ’86 was the first member of his immediate family to attend college. After two years of community college in California, he came north to Pacific University to play football and study psychology and sociology.
His own parents hadn’t finished high school, and they were intent on giving their children more.
They took Carl out of public school and enrolled him in an all-boys prep school, and they emphasized the importance of an education.
“(College) was very much an expectation, and an encouragement as well,” he said. “Unfortunately, my dad passed away just before I started my freshman year, but my mother wanted to see me through.”
Carl graduated from Pacific and went on to work as a counselor in a group home, then with the California Youth Authority. The balance of his career has been spent in law enforcement, working for the California State Patrol as a youth officer.
Along the way, he insisted on the same educational focus for his children.
“It was very, very clear they would attend college, and they would finish,” Carl said.
Avery remembers joining his mother in master’s classes as a child.
“It was like a field trip for me. I loved it,” he said. “I always knew a bachelor’s isn’t enough; I have to get a master’s.”
Avery always showed academic inclination. He was accepted to 13 colleges, and he planned to attend somewhere in his home state of California, until he got a call from Pacific.
It's rigorous here. They want to push you, want to see you try, take initiative. –Avery Richardson '17
“I told my dad, and he said, ‘Oh good, because I put your information in yesterday,’” Avery said. “I had never thought about Pacific, but the next day, I got a call from a coach. I got an academic scholarship and a chance to play football.”
He also became a legacy student — a current student whose parent or grandparent attended Pacific — and got a chance to see just what his father had been talking about for so many years.
As a student, Carl played football and enjoyed the outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.
Avery is involved in more campus activities. He participated in the 55th annual Lu‘au this spring, and he’s vice president of the Black Student Union and an undergraduate representative for the university Diversity Committee.
Both men have lived in McCormick Hall, and both played football for the Boxers — though the program has been dismantled and rebuilt in between.
“[My dad] likes the program now,” Avery said. “The coaches stress discipline, and they care about us. He noticed that. He likes how dedicated and driven the players are.”
Pacific’s student population has more than doubled, but both Carl and Avery talk about the relationships that Pacific introduces.
“It was just unmatched,” Carl said. “Even after all these years, you just pick up where you left off.”
“You meet genuinely good people here,” Avery echoed. “My dad would always mention that, and I see it.”
Ultimately, though, a Pacific education is about a path to the future, they said.
“You always want your kids to do more than you did,” Carl said. “(My parents felt) in order for us to succeed, college would be very important. That’s the approach I took as well.
“My kids had to go to school … just to give themselves the chance to succeed in life.”
Avery is doing just that. He’s an exercise science major who wants to become a doctor, perhaps enlisting in the Air Force along the way.
Pacific, he said, will open doors.
“It’s rigorous here,” he said. “They want to push you, want to see you try, take initiative.
“I’m actually being prepared for the future here.”
Leave a Legacy
Founded in 1993, the Alumni Legacy Scholarship provides financial assistance to students whose parent or grandparent attended Pacific.
Help give the next generation the gift of a Pacific University education. Contribute to the Alumni Legacy Scholarship today!
This story first appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine.