In a remarkable story of perseverance and family support, a mother and son from Maryland have achieved their dream of graduating from the same university on the same day, setting a record for the institution.
Immanuel Patton, 23, and his mother Carolyn, 63, accepted their university degrees from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) in Adelphi—a suburb of Baltimore—on December 16, 2022. Carolyn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the humanities while Immanuel received a bachelor’s degree in public safety administration.
The joint graduation was the fulfillment of a promise that Immanuel made to his mother when he was only five years old. He told her that they would get their degrees together someday, and he never let go of that vision.
Carolyn, a single parent of two, had always wanted to complete her bachelor’s degree, but life got in the way. She had earned two associate’s degrees in electronic technology and transfer studies from different community colleges, but she had to put her education on hold to raise her children and work as a coordinator at Anne Arundel Community College.
Immanuel, however, kept encouraging his mother to pursue her degree as he was working towards his own. He said he was inspired by her resilience and determination. He also wanted to honor his sister, who had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2018.
The Pattons enrolled at UMGC in the fall of 2020, attracted by its online degree programs that offered flexibility and convenience. They studied together, helped each other with assignments, and motivated each other to overcome challenges.
Carolyn said she had moments of doubt and frustration, but Immanuel always cheered her on. He said: “No, if I can do it, you can do it. We’re going to do it together.”
Immanuel also faced academic difficulties, at one point getting a 1.0 grade point average and being placed on academic probation. But he did not give up, and he improved his performance with his mother’s support.
After two years of hard work and dedication, the Pattons finally achieved their goal. They walked across the stage at UMGC’s winter commencement ceremony, where they received their diplomas and posed for photos with the UMGC president, Gregory Fowler.
Fowler said he was inspired by Immanuel’s commitment to support his mother. He said: “For him to make that pledge at such a young age is truly remarkable.”
The Pattons said they were very proud of each other and their joint accomplishment. They also thanked their family and friends for their support along the way.
Carolyn said she hoped to use her degree to get a pay raise at work. Immanuel said he planned to pursue a master’s degree in public safety administration and eventually work for the federal government.
They also said they hoped their story would inspire others to follow their dreams and never give up.
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