ALPHARETTA, Ga. –– Gina Daunt and Kathryn Elliot share a special bond. Not only are they mother and daughter, but they happened to graduate from college on the same day.
Daunt, an honors graduate from Eastern Kentucky University, juggled being a mom, assistant fire marshal for the city of Roswell and college student from 2011-13. She received her associate’s degree from Georgia Perimeter College 17 years ago, but she recently decided to go back to school for her bachelor’s degree in general studies.
“It was always a struggle to make enough money,” said Daunt, “So I signed up to earn my degree and I made it work. It was hard, but it feels good to be done and prove to myself that I did it.”
Daunt finally was able to take the monkey off her back by earning her degree, and she said it was only sweeter that she was able to graduate with her daughter.
Elliot, who graduated with a double major in writing and linguistics from Georgia Southern University, said she felt relieved to receive her degree. She took extra classes on top of a full load to graduate in the spring.
“I took 18 hours in both the fall and spring; it was one of the most overwhelming experiences in my life,” said Elliot, “but I worked very hard and made all A’s and B’s to finish my last year.”
Elliot said that she feels ready to enter the workforce because she worked as a resident assistant (RA) prior to her graduation.
“Being an RA had a lot to do with the field that I wanted to get into,” said Elliot. “You have to write multiple reports and the writing style is very unique. I feel that it was one of the best professional experiences that I participated in.”
On May 11, both Daunt and Elliot finally received the fruits of their labor: their diplomas. However, it did not go without controversy. Because the women graduated from different institutions, it was impossible for them to walk at their respective graduations and be present at the other’s commencement. A sacrifice had to be made.
Ultimately, Daunt chose to skip her commencement and attend her daughter’s instead. It was a bittersweet moment.
“I met with the dean of students at Georgia Southern to ask if my mother could walk, but he wouldn’t allow it because she did not graduate from the same school,” said Elliot.
Daunt does not look back at her decision to skip her commencement. She brims with pride when she talks about herself and her daughter.
“I am proud of myself and my daughter. We both worked very hard, and I am glad both she and I graduated,” said Daunt.