Following in Her Footsteps

By Charles McKenzie, May 10, 2024
Mother and daughter find themselves on the same paths

Michele and Lindsey

Michele Scharago ’94 and her daughter Lindsey ’24 have found themselves on the same path, repeatedly — and sometimes unexpectedly. 

Last winter, Michele Scharago ’94 discovered a long-lost photo album in her late mother’s belongings. She flipped through it searching for an answer.

Fortunately, what was puzzling Michele and her own daughter Lindsey was not the kind of family mystery or secret that could tear families apart. Instead, it was more of a curiosity, a coincidence really, whose only real consequence was yet another connection between a grieving mother and daughter.

Lindsey Scharago ’24 had grown up hearing stories about her mother’s Ithaca College housemates and even met some of them when the 1994 graduates reconnected over the years, taking their families on joint vacations.

Flashing forward to 2019, as Lindsey was choosing a college for herself, years of her mother’s IC stories worked their way into the process. Ultimately, from among 10 schools,she chose not just her mother’s college but the same major: Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (SLPA).

Last spring, in preparation for her senior year, Lindsey and two SLPA classmates rented an apartment on Hudson Street.

Her mother laughed as she realized her daughter was following in her footsteps in yet another way.

“I get to the last picture in the album, and it’s Mom’s friends on the front porch right before their graduation.”

Lindsey Scharago ’24

“I lived on Hudson too,” she told Lindsey.

But the best was yet to come.

Looking up pictures of her daughter’s apartment online, and then touring it with her later, Michelle thought it looked a bit familiar. But decades of paint had obscured the house’s original color, and the actual street address had long since faded in her memory. Besides, with so much student housing on Hudson Street, how could they be sure?

They laughed thinking that they might have once been neighbors and classmates, just a few doors—and decades—apart. It was a fun-enough family story that they quickly gave up on finding Michelle’s exact address.

“Honestly, I never thought we would find the answer for sure,” she said.

That was until the matriarch of the family, Susan, died last January. Found in the back of her closet was a mountain of photo albums, including one from 1994, Michelle’s senior year at IC.

Looking for details of her mother’s house, Lindsey pored through the entire album to no avail until...

“I get to the last picture in the album, and it’s Mom’s friends on the front porch right before their graduation.”

And the number on the house was clear: 416.

“That’s my house! We had never assumed it was the same house, but now we had proof. It was crazy,” Lindsey said. Seeing the old house brought a lot of memories flooding back to her mother.

“Mom started crying. She said, ‘This was my room. This was Sarah’s room. This was Andrea’s room.’ It was also special because it was her graduation, and I'm graduating soon.”

Today, there are three speech-language pathology students living under the same roof, just like old times. Lindsey has even given her two roommates their graduation presents already (she just could not wait). All three have matching rings engraved with “416 Hudson.”

“Do I get one too?” Michele asked her daughter. Lindsey blushed, “Well, you’re not living here now, so...”

Lindsey and roommates

Lindsey and her roommates are enjoying their last days together in Ithaca. (Photo submitted)

Despite not having the iconic jewelry, a mother and a daughter went to the same college, picked the same major, and ultimately lived in the same house.

Lindsey even received a scholarship last year named for one of her mother’s former SLPA professors, L. George Van Son, whose own daughter also was an SLPA classmate of Michele’s.

That’s where the connections stop for now.

No, mother and daughter did not have the same bedroom, but a lot of the pieces in the furnished apartment look frighteningly similar, they say.

While Michele ultimately followed in her own mother’s footsteps into elementary education in New Jersey, where she specializes in special education, Lindsey will pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Montclair State University, commuting to school from her parents’ home.

Lindsey hopes to work with stroke and general aphasia patients to help them regain their language skills. She was moved by the story of Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman, who had a stroke in 2022 while running for office.

“He was giving these big speeches still, and I would watch them all because so many stroke patients can’t speak at all at first, so seeing his progress because of his speech pathologists and all of the tactics they taught him was really cool.”

Though education was the family business at least for her mother and grandmother, Lindsey is proud that she will still be helping people. Unfortunately, this Mother’s Day will be their first without their matriarch and Lindsey and Michele will be apart on the actual day, but will celebrate Mother’s Day and graduation the following weekend.

With Lindsey’s two speech-path roommates also headed off to master’s degree programs themselves, it will be the end of an era at 416 Hudson...for now.

Before the lease runs out, her mother has toyed with idea of getting her own roommates back to the house for one last “girls’ weekend.”

And Lindsey hopes to have children one day. Maybe a daughter. Maybe a speech path student at IC. No pressure, she says.

“Who knows? Maybe she’ll live at 416 Hudson?”