Wednesday, October 4, 2023

From Mexico to Middle Tennessee, the Fisher Siblings take on MTSU


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Featured Photo Courtesy of the Fisher Family

Story by Luke Cameron

The Fishers, a Christian missionary family in Guadelajara, Mexico, made the move back to Tennessee in 2019 and have since increased Middle Tennessee State University’s student population by five.

Along with five additional siblings, MTSU students Calliope, Gabriela, Joseph and Raquel Fisher were born and raised in Mexico. Their sister Amanda already resided in Murfreesboro.

“She was living here because her husband worked here,” Calliope said. “She said, ‘Well, you guys can come and live with us. You can get a GED, and there’s a school here called MTSU.’”

The Fisher brood, ten kids in all, are the children of Christian missionaries Paul and Dawn Fisher. Their parents met at Clearwater Christian College in the 1980s. “My parents had seven girl names picked out on one of their first dates,” Calliope said. “They both knew they wanted a big family.” The two got married; graduated; moved to Monterrey, Mexico, to begin their life as missionaries and started their family. After about 15 years in Monterrey, the Fisher family settled in Guadalajara.

The Fishers have fond memories of growing up in Guadalajara, a place known for its year-round beautiful weather. Dawn Fisher was cautious and practical. Paul was daring. “My dad is an interesting person,” Calliope said. “He’s a very nice person, and he gets along with anybody. He’s just an adrenaline junkie.”

Adventures with him included snorkeling, rock-climbing, braving the ocean off Puerto Vallarta in a small boat and cliff-diving into bodies of water. Raquel recalls, “He would take us on these hikes, and we’d go to the edge of these beautiful cliffs. And he would be like, ‘Okay, I guess I’ll test it out. Let’s do it. I’ll be the first one to jump. I love you guys. And if I come back up, please follow my lead. And if I don’t, find your way back down.’”

The Fisher kids’ primary education was unorthodox. They were homeschooled, making use of textbooks that were handed down from one child to the next, starting with Amanda. Upon moving to the States, then-15-year-old Raquel was enrolled at Oakland High School. “It was a drastic change and a lot of adjustment,” she said.

Education was not the only thing the Fishers had to adjust to stateside. Cold weather made itself known to them too. “It was quite a shock when we experienced our first winter in Tennessee,” Calliope remembers. “In our life,” Raquel says. “We had never experienced snow.” “Or freezing weather,” Calliope added, “We were dying.”

“We didn’t know that we had to scrape ice off our car. So the first time we saw that we were just like, ‘What do we do?’ We were Googling it.”

They survived, though, and have come to appreciate Middle Tennessee: its change of seasons, nature, state parks and waterfalls. This past summer their father came to visit the U.S. and led them on a quest to visit, and jump off, a panoply of area waterfalls.

The siblings prize their MTSU experience. “Having professors who guide you, who even motivate you, who care about your learning experience, who want you to succeed—it’s encouraging,” Gabriela says. She wants to work in human resources to help a diverse workforce including immigrants.

 “Being raised in a different country, I think I have a little more insight on what it feels like to be somewhere new and to maybe not feel very welcomed,” said Gabriela.

But their experience at MTSU has been nothing but welcoming. “The diversity that you can find among students—if you are willing to be open about it, there’s so much opportunity to meet people and build connections on campus,” said Raquel.

The Fishers are hoping to continue to learn, to excel academically, to find their paths and to make more connections at MTSU. They also have a younger sibling named Jack, a junior at Oakland High School who is a potential Blue Raider. “We’re trying to convince him,” Gabriela says. “Meeting people not only from Tennessee but from different states and from different countries, you really get to be more open-minded,” said Gabriela. “If you put in the little steps, someone else will and you can meet people.”

“My mom is probably one of the smartest people I know,” Calliope said. “Even though we were 11 kids, I don’t remember growing up in a chaotic household. It was very organized, and it was very loving. That was my mom putting systems in place, making sure that we all thrived. She’s super smart and loving and she pulled it off, which is crazy.”Gabriela adds, “I mean, we’re alive and, I would say, somewhat normal.”

Luke Cameron is a contributing writer for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact News Editor Kailee Shores and Assistant News Editor Alyssa Williams, email

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