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Mother, daughter to graduate together

Edward Waters College program allows parents, kids to go to college together

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – College Signing Day, part of the Reach Higher and Better Make Room campaigns created by first lady Michelle Obama and the White House, encourages young people to seek higher education.

But a program at Edward Waters College is making it possible for parents to do more than just encourage their children to attend college.

Joyce Truett and Tiffany Nealy are a mother-daughter duo tackling college together through EWC's CLIMB program, which stands for Credentials for Leadership in Management and Business. It allows students with 45 credit hours or more to complete an 18-month accelerated degree program.

Truett, 59, said she already had some college credits under her belt, but she took a break to focus on work and family. She said she didn't want her daughter to wait like she did.

"My daughter had stopped college, and I decided that it was a way for her to really get back into it, because I really wanted to complete college myself,” Truett said.

Nealy, 29, said one aspect that made the courses work for her schedule was their online component.

“Being able to do anything online helped keep me involved in my other activities,” she said.

While her mom taught her life lessons, Nealy admits that she became the teacher at times when it came to the classes they took together.

"Like using (Microsoft) Word and all the little hidden icons that are there that you utilize when you're typing a paper,” Nealy said.

"I type slower than her, so I let her go ahead and do her speed thing and then I get on it and do what I need to do,” Truett said."(I was) falling asleep at the table and getting up at 3 a.m. trying to finish papers."

Next month, mother and daughter will move the tassel and cross the stage together with bachelor's degrees in business administration -- a degree that Truett said she will put to good use.

"(I'm) looking forward to some other type of position, maybe in management, using it for a chance,” Truett said.

Nealy is graduating with honors and plans to pursue an MBA. Both said that no matter the situation, it's important to continue one's education.

"Just do it; don't make any excuse,” Nealy said. “As long as you have a good family or friend support system to help you, you'll be OK."

“Age doesn't matter still, because I'm almost a senior citizen,” Truett said with a laugh.

Both women said the journey and encouragement from each other have made their relationship stronger.