Gross Family Clockwise from upper right: James, Mary, Carol, and Susan Gross

The Grosses make McCormick a family affair

When twins Carol and Susan Gross moved into their dorms as freshmen this year, they had a bit of an advantage over their peers. As the fifth and sixth members of their family to choose McCormick, they were much more acclimated than typical freshmen.

Sharing the McCormick experience with Carol and Susan are their parents, Tom '77 and Louisa (Hollmeyer) '77, and their older sister and brother, Mary '06 and James '08.

Despite the abundance of engineers in the household, Louisa says that she and Tom never pushed their children toward engineering or McCormick.

"They really enjoy math and science," Louisa says. "But we try to stay neutral because they need to choose what is best for them." Still, the couple is happy about the college and career choice of their first four offspring. "We're glad to see our kids in engineering," Louisa says. "There are so many opportunities."

Tom and Louisa met in the Tech library while studying for circuits class the only class they shared during their undergraduate career. The two married the summer after graduation and moved to Indianapolis to begin their careers, Tom as a cost researcher for a medical company and Louisa as a clinical engineer. Tom found he was interested in the medical information at work and applied for medical school one year later. He's now a gastroenterologist, while Louisa stays at home with the youngest three of their seven children.

Not surprisingly, the children of two engineers have all shown promise in science and math. Louisa says that potential was nurtured through Northwestern's Center for Talent Development (CTD), which provides a variety of summer and year-round programs for gifted students. After Mary, the oldest of the Gross children, attended the summer camp, she persuaded her parents to send her younger brothers and sisters.

"It's a powerful place where kids are encouraged to grow beyond what they get in regular school," Louisa says of CTD. "They connect with other kids like them, and it nurtures their interests."

Mary says that spending summers at Northwestern also helped make the college choice a little easier. "I went to camp, so I felt comfortable on campus," she says. "A lot of my student counselors went to Northwestern, so I knew that I liked some of the older students." With his sister's strong recommendation of the University, James also decided to attend Northwestern.

"Once Mary and Jim went there, I really hoped that the twins would, too," Louisa says. But she tried to subdue her preference as Carol and Susan looked at many schools, including some quite far away from their Brownsburg, Indiana, home. The twins visited Mary and James at Northwestern, where Mary took them to events and even to her study group. She says she did the best she could to show the twins what life would be like at McCormick. "I was holding my breath after their acceptance letters came in, thinking, 'Please choose my school.'"

In the end, that family connection made the difference. "I chose Northwestern based on the fact that my parents and my siblings are a lot like me," Carol explains. "It was a good fit for them, so I figured it would probably be a good fit for me, too."

Each member of the family has chosen a different discipline of engineering, and Carol and Susan are each excited to explore what area will be right for her. "We don't know about all of the career options available," Susan says. "I read an article that chemical engineers can be taste-testers and that sounds interesting, but I'm excited to learn about the options."

Louisa says that having McCormick in common is a "bond her children will share for life." And perhaps Susan and Carol won't be the last of the Gross children to share that bond there are three boys still at home.

Kyle Delaney