The Tradition Continues: Granddaughter Graduates 50 Years After Grandfather


NMU Alumnus Dennis Ormsbee graduated from Northern in 1972, and would never have imagined that 50 years later his granddaughter would be completing the same accomplishment from the same university. 


Read about Dennis' experience below

The tradition continues and is alive and well! I am proud to say my granddaughter, Sydney Ormsbee, graduated in the spring of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience – exactly 50 years after I walked across the stage to receive my degree from NMU! It was a wonderful experience and as I sat in the Superior Dome for the exciting event, it hit me that it was 50 years ago, in 1972, that I witnessed the very same significant event in my own life, when I received a bachelor’s degree in music education.

Sydney was very active at Northern. She was on both the Cross-Country and Track and Field teams all four years and was the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the 2020-21 academic year. That same year, Sydney was chairman of Athlete Relations winning the event of the year award given out by the NMU Center for Student Enrichment. While doing all of this, she graduated with high honors and is now pursuing a PA degree for a future in the medical field. 

I retired from teaching in 2001. My first teaching position was in Atlanta, Michigan and from there I took a position at Crawford AuSable District in Grayling, Michigan, where I was Teacher of the Year for five years. I was nominated and received a membership in the American School Band Director’s Association (ASBDA), and the Grayling Band received the Award of Excellence from that association – one of seventeen in the state of Michigan to receive that award. The experience at NMU was so instrumental in my career as a music teacher, and I am so grateful for the faculty at NMU and the education I received there.

After retiring from teaching Instrumental Music for 6-12th graders, I was a school representative for Marshall Music. My wife, Brenda, and I are still uniform representatives in the Band and Choir for Orefice, LTD. We have three children and six grandchildren. We have resided in Grayling since 1985 and enjoy the AuSable area and taking in as many family events as possible.

Dennis also has a grandson that currently goes to NMU, Ethan, who is a Resident Advisor in the residence halls and is expected to graduate in 2025 with a degree in psychology.

Dennis and Sydney Ormsbee

Dennis and Sydney Ormsbee at Sydney's Commencement

Dennis Ormsbee

Dennis Ormsbee while he was attending NMU

Author Information

Dennis Ormsbee, Bachelor's in Music Education, Class of 1972                                               

Sydney Ormsbee, Bachelor's in Neuroscience, Class of 2022 

Ethan Ormsbee, Bachelor's in Psychology, Expected Class of 2025