Family Weekend is about celebrating Wofford and the way we’re all connected as part of the greater Wofford family. Some used the weekend to connect through research or the exploration of study abroad or career preparation. Others found connection through the choral concert or volleyball or football games. Still others enjoyed connecting during the Terrier trivia night or band parties in the Stewart H. Johnson Greek Village.

The Harmening siblings have developed a new legacy of connection to the college. The Owens family’s connections to Wofford span generations. Both share their stories in this special Family Weekend 2022 feature.


Four Harmening siblings make Wofford their college choice

By Robert W. Dalton

Day Harmening Cooper ’19 didn’t intend to start a family tradition when she enrolled at Wofford College in 2015.

But three younger brothers — Will ’21, Campbell ’22 and Asa Harmening ’26 — followed in her footsteps. … even when sometimes they were determined not to.

“When it came time for my brothers to apply to college, I was hands off,” says Cooper, who earlier this year earned a law degree from American University, started a job with Mercedes-Benz in Atlanta, Ga., and got married. “We’re a tight-knit family, but we’re all very different personality-wise.”

When Cooper was making her college choice, she drew a box around the geographic area where she wanted to be — growing up in Orlando, Fla., she didn’t like cold weather, and she didn’t want to be on the West Coast. When she began applying, she says she let colleges eliminate themselves, and Wofford came out the winner.

“Wofford pursued me,” she says. “I got handwritten letters. Nobody else did that. They knew I was interested in history, so all of my interviewers were with history professors. They matched me with people who shared my interests. The people at Wofford just really win you over.”

That was also the case for Will Harmening. He had been accepted to the University of Florida and had two friends he was going to room with. He didn’t think there was any way he was coming to Wofford. One weekend changed that, and now he may never leave Spartanburg.

“I came up to visit and started looking around, and for the first time I started second-guessing,” he says. “All of my friends went to Florida or Florida State. I decided I was ready to go out on a limb and do something different, but not too different because my sister was there.”

After graduating from Wofford, Will took a gap year to work at a nonprofit clinic in Orlando. He has now returned to Spartanburg to attend Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. When he’s finished, he says, Spartanburg may very well become home.

“I’ve fallen in love with Spartanburg,” Will says. “I didn’t think I’d want to be here permanently, but that’s definitely changed. This is where I want to set down some roots and develop my life.”

Campbell Harmening ’22 had followed his siblings through school his entire life. He wasn’t sure he wanted to continue that path in college, although his top three choices were Wofford, the University of Georgia and Rollins University.

“I went through the interview process, and it seemed like Wofford really wanted me,” says Campbell, who now works at Nephron Pharmaceuticals in Columbia, S.C. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world because of the people you meet. And it was really cool being here with my family.”

For Asa Harmening ’26, the decision was an easy one. He was sold on Wofford’s academic program, and he had already made friends while visiting his brothers.

“I got to see what it was really like and got to meet a lot of students and just hang with them,” says Asa, who plans to major in history. “It’s kind of cool being able to come in as a first-year student and know a lot of people already.”

Wofford is a break from the Vanderbilt tradition for the Harmening siblings. Four generations of their family, including their mother, Mary Harmening, graduated from Vanderbilt University. Their father, Bill Harmening, graduated from Hampden- Sydney College. Both Mary and Bill say Wofford has been a great environment for their family and they’re happy with the new Terrier tradition.

“Everyone has been so nice here,” Mary says. “We’ve made some really great friends here ourselves through the years.”


Another Owens joins the Society of 1854

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89

As a high school student, Sunni Owens ’26 was as highly recruited as her sister Sarah Owens ’23. When the acceptance and scholarship letters started coming in during her senior year, Sunni and her family celebrated.

“I think Wofford was my second acceptance letter,” says Sunni. “I remember running down the stairs to tell my parents. They were just as excited as I was.”

Later, when it was time to decide where she would spend her college career, she just kept coming back to the reaction she and her family had to Wofford’s yes.

“It was just different,” says Sunni, who had visited Wofford for admission events and to see Sarah. “Nothing else compared.”

During Family Weekend, Sunni was inducted into the Society of 1854, just like Sarah was during her first Family Weekend at Wofford. The Society of 1854 recognizes Wofford legacies. This year, 60 first-year students were inducted and recognized along with their Wofford alumni parent or grandparent.

“It’s more than a dream come true,” says Ralph Owens ’74.

This year’s Family Weekend was especially meaningful for the Owens family. Ralph had a kidney transplant eight years ago. His wife, Flora, is a recent breast cancer survivor. Some of their physicians — including Dr. Charles Edward Huggins ’65, who delivered all three daughters — were Wofford graduates.

“We know we can trust them if they’re Wofford graduates,” says Ralph, who beamed while surrounded by his wife and daughters just before the ceremony, held this year in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts.

“Through all of it, our daughters never faltered,” says Flora Owens. “They have flourished and worked hard to make us proud. … We are proud parents of three high-achieving daughters who are also loving and compassionate human beings. It’s a privilege to know that I’m a part of the impact that they will all have on society one day.”

For everyone, the Society of 1854 event was a celebration of Wofford and family. For the Owens family, that celebration goes even further back than Ralph’s years as a student.

“I had always heard about Wofford from my dad and his stories,” says Sarah ’23. “He advocated hard for the Wofford education and this community, but coming to Wofford also meant connecting to my family in a deeper way.”

Sarah and Sunni’s grandfather, James Henry Owens Sr., was from Spartanburg and wanted very much to attend Wofford. He never even applied because at the time Wofford was all white, and a segregated society and educational system made his attendance impossible.

“We still have relatives in the Spartanburg area, so being at Wofford has given us the opportunity to get to know them better,” says Sarah.

During the Society of 1854 induction ceremony, Sunni’s name was called along with Sarah’s and Ralph’s. They all walked to the podium to receive the pin and have a photo taken. They were all smiles as they walked away. Then Ralph stopped and pointed a finger toward the ceiling.

“I’ve got one more coming!” he said, referring to Selena, a ninth grader in high school who is already looking at colleges.