Lamoni’s Spring 2023 Commencement ceremony marked the end of the latest chapter in the long HARDER FAMILY LEGACY at Graceland, which dates back to the 1930s.
Harder triplets Lacey, Logan, and Laura walked across the commencement stage to the cheers of their parents, Travis ’93 and Julie ’92. Lacey, Logan, and Laura grew up on a steady diet of SPECTACULAR each summer, so when they went to choose a university, each of them said they felt at home at Graceland, even having explored other opportunities. Each of them has had their own unique experience at Graceland, participating in different activities and carving their own path.
“I really learned to love Graceland on my own rather than through the eyes of my parents,” Laura said. “I learned I could run track and cross country, and I had a great audition with the music program. [With] these opportunities, I knew I had to attend Graceland.” All three Harders were active in Graceland’s house system. Lacey was on Aponivi, Laura on Paloma, and Logan on Closson. Lacey’s house experience was particularly familial – her aunt Debbie Daikowa ’87 Harder, her cousin Hannah ’24, and two of her extended cousins were also Aponivi Angels.
The Harder family goes all the way back to the origins of Graceland. “One of our ancestors was here when Graceland was first founded,” said Laura. “He helped build the Administration Building to help pay his tuition. After he attended, we’ve had a long line of relatives who have attended because we understand the positive impact Graceland has on our lives.”
“Hearing stories from my grandpa and other family members about their time on campus adds such sentimental value,” said Logan. “It’s a special place for my family and I’m incredibly grateful to continue the family legacy at such a meaningful place.”
“One of our ancestors was here when Graceland was first founded. He helped build the Administration Building to help pay his tuition. After he attended, we’ve had a long line of relatives who have attended because we understand the positive impact Graceland has on our lives.”
Laura Harder ʼ23
The Harder triplets’ mother and father followed in their parents’ footsteps to Graceland. Julie’s parents James ’61 and Sharon Lewis ’62 Craven attended shortly after Travis’ father David, who graduated in 1957. Travis’ mother, Nita, who passed away earlier this year, did not attend Graceland, but was actually named as an Honorary Alumna at Homecoming in 2019.
Now that the triplets have walked across the stage, they’re ready for the next part of their lives.
Lacey graduated in December 2022 with a major in social change and an emphasis in Gender and LGBTQ+ Justice. She immediately completed a 12-week internship in Dublin, Ireland with a nonprofit called Work Equal, which helps women from a variety of backgrounds get back in the workforce.
Logan, who graduated with a degree in Math and a secondary education endorsement, is pursuing high school math positions in St. Louis and will begin Graceland’s Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics program this summer.
Laura will graduate officially in December 2023 with her degree in music and endorsements in K-8, 5-12 music education. She will complete her student teaching in St. Louis in the fall and hopes to become a high school band director as soon as possible.
As for any future Harder Graceland graduates, only time will tell. The memories will remain though. Lacey shared one of her favorite memories from her time at Graceland, “During Homecoming 2021, I painted the bell with Hannah, Katelyn (Metcalf) ’18, Cameron ’17, Laura, and Logan, who are all current students or alumni. We thought it would be fun to celebrate the family legacy in the same way that houses have done for years. It was chilly and dark, but completely worth it because our paint job remained visible for a few days.”