A Match Made in Honors

Honors College Student Follows Her Parents’ Footsteps 21 Years Later

Abigail Wilsbacher just began her freshman year at Kent State University this past fall, but she has been immersed in Kent State nearly her entire life. In 1997, her parents met as Honors College students at Kent State and now in 2023, Abigail continues the legacy as an Honors student. 

Abigail’s parents, Matt Wilsbacher and Lisa Viertel, were both Kent State Honors College students when they met at the start of their freshman year. Both were interested in science and credit the Kent State campus as an influencing factor in their college decision. After looking at other Ohio universities, Lisa states she, “Liked Kent’s campus the best, it seemed the safest and nice looking with a good biology program, and it just felt right.” Matt shared Lisa’s feelings towards Kent, recalling, “It was my first tour of KSU that sealed the decision. The campus felt warm and familiar, like home.” That mutual sense of belonging may just have been what destined Matt and Lisa to meet. 

Abigail's parents Matt and Lisa spending time in their residence hall as students of the Honors College.

Matt was a geology major with a minor in biology while Lisa was a biology major with a minor in secondary education. Lisa worked at the Kent State ice rink and was a member of Campus Crusade, while Matt participated in broomball and was a member of the Newman Club. The two had a chemistry course together (along with physics and physiology) but it was their first weekend at an Honors College mixer that they initially met. 

Matt and Lisa began conversing through their mutual friend group that typically hung out at their dorms at Heer Hall and Harbourt Hall. For months, they stayed friends within the group until the Honors College hosted a semi-formal dance in mid-November their freshman year. Matt asked Lisa to dance and the two went out for coffee afterward. It wasn’t long after the dance that they began dating. 

The two dated all throughout college. They were engaged before they graduated in the spring of 2002 and  were married that following fall. The couple would later settle down near North Canton and stay involved in the Kent State community. They have three children with Abigail, the eldest, now carving her own path at Kent State. Abigail grew up with Kent State as a part of her childhood, noting, “I’ve been pretty set on Kent State most of my life… my parents would take me to the Akron/Kent baseball games when I was in kindergarten.” 

Abigail's parents Matt and Lisa playing in the leaves on the Kent State Campus during a fall semester.

Abigail’s familiarity with Kent State at such a young age may have readers wondering how her first year on campus is progressing. Having already completed the fall 2022 semester, she is currently pursuing a degree in early childhood education through the Honors College. Recently, she was awarded membership into the Kent State chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta, the honor society for first-year academic success. Her parents often visit her at her Honors College residence hall, somewhat jealous of the “new, convenient location,”Abigail notes. 

Besides chiding Abigail on how lucky she is to have free laundry, the family also enjoy visiting downtown Kent and reminiscing  of familiar locations, such as Ray’s Place and Franklin Square Deli. However, Abigail is now also able to introduce her parents to new restaurants and shops,and they have now become regulars at Off the Wagon toy store. 

Matt and Lisa are thankful for their experiences during their time at  Kent State in the Honors College and wish the same for their daughter. Abigail plans to graduate in spring of 2026 and intends to work as a teacher or in museum education. From their initial meeting their  freshman year in the Honors College to now seeing their daughter as an Honors student, Kent State has come full circle for the Wilsbacher family. 

For more information about the Honors College, please visit the Honors College Website




PHOTO CAPTION 1: Abigail Wilsbacher stands with her parents in her graduation gown at high school graduation on a football field. 

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Abigail's parents Matt and Lisa spending time in their residence hall as students of the Honors College. 

PHOTO CAPTION 3: Abigail's parents Matt and Lisa playing in the leaves on the Kent State Campus during a fall semester. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312


POSTED: Tuesday, March 7, 2023 10:22 AM
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 07, 2023 11:08 AM
Honors College Writing Intern Chloe Gortz