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September 08, 2011 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-09-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

For some alumni families,

Wayne State
is a tradition

I think it's fair to say Wayne is in our blood,"
says Elaine C. Driker, Ed. '59. She and her
husband, Eugene Driker, CLAS '59, J.D. '61,
both are Wayne State alumni, and each has
a brother and sister who are graduates of
the university. Their son, Stephen Driker,
M.D. '98, earned his medical degree at
Wayne, as did his wife, Jennifer Bookstein
Driker, M.D. '97. Jennifer's parents, Jerome,
Bus. '56, and Lorraine Bookstein, CLAS '60,
attended Wayne State as well.

It all started nearly 60 years ago. The
university was the best option for Elaine
and Eugene Driker when they were
graduating from Central High School in the
mid 1950s.

"It was the school of choice for people in
our circumstance," says Eugene Driker, who
notes that the university was accessible,
affordable and, most importantly, offered
students like him, the child of immigrants,
a chance for higher education.

As a student, he chose Wayne because, he
jokes, "My father said I could go to any
college I wanted to as long as I could get
there on the Dexter bus."

That is how he ended up in college with
many of his high school classmates. "It
was a lot of fun. We had a great time at
Wayne," he says.

While arriving at Wayne State was perhaps
a foregone conclusion for the Drikers and
many members of their family and social
circles, subsequent roads led them back to

Wayne State at different points in their
lives. Elaine Driker attended Wayne
State on a scholarship and worked
part-time for the university while
studying for her education degree.
She'd met her future husband in high
school, "but we became an item at
Wayne," she says. "Eugene basically
courted me in the basement of Old

The Drikers married in 1959, just days
after Elaine Driker graduated and
with Eugene Driker in law school, well
on his way to graduating first in his
Frank Castronova Pere, Frank Castronova fiLs
class. After a stint with the Justice
and Anthony Castronova.
Department in Washington, D.C.,
Eugene Driker went into private
He says he senses new life surrounding
practice back in Detroit and became a
Wayne State. "The university has never been
founding member of Barris, Sott, Denn &
viewed with greater respect or importance
Driker PLLC, a firm which, he points out,
in the Detroit area than it is now," he says. "I
hires many Wayne State alumni.
think people understand Wayne is the key to
the future of Southeast Michigan."
The Drikers have two children, Stephen
Driker and Elissa Driker-Ohren.

True to tradition, Wayne State was where
Stephen "became an item" with his wife,
Jennifer Bookstein Driker. The two knew
each other as children, but didn't begin
dating until medical school.

After raising her children, Elaine Driker went
on to earn a graduate degree in urban
planning at the University of Michigan, but
came back to Wayne State in 1990. She
worked in the former College of Urban,
Labor and Metropolitan Affairs, where she
created and ran the Detroit
Orientation Institute. A
lifelong volunteer, she retired
in 2002 but remains as busy
as ever in her work with
nonprofits. She is president of
Hillel of Metro Detroit, which
is based at Wayne State.

The Driker family at the Anthony Wayne Society's
Thanksgiving parade event.

The Drikers' connection to
Wayne State has come full
circle with Eugene Driker's
presence on the Board of
Governors. Appointed to
the post in 2002 to fill a
vacancy, Driker was elected
to the seat in 2006. By the
time he finishes his term,
his involvement with Wayne
State will have spanned 60
years. He also is chair of the
WSU Foundation Board of

Frank Castronova, Bus. '70, M.A. '74,
Ph.D. '97, teaches part-time at Wayne
State's School of Medicine and College of
Education. Castronova's three children also
attended Wayne State.

Eldest son, Frank, CLAS '93, M.Lib. Sci. '99,
worked for the university's development
office and is now annual fund director at
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist
Academy. Daughter Andrea Castronova
Merritt, Bus. '96, M.B.A. '00, is a doctoral
candidate in instructional technology.
And youngest son, Anthony, Bus. '10, was
married in June to Sarah Buyle, Nurs. '10.

"I take a lot of pride in the university," the
elder Frank Castronova says. "I've been
on the campus one way or another for 44
years. It's really a beautiful place. Many
people don't realize that."

The younger Frank agrees. When it came
time to decide where to go to school,
Wayne State "just felt like the right place
to be," he says. "My father, brother, sister,
wife, and I are proud alumni."

A key part of their pride is Detroit's
Midtown neighborhood, which Castronova
says is something he and his family visit
regularly — from campus to the Cultural
Center and beyond.

This story originally appeared in slightly
different form in Wayne State magazine.


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