Joanna Turner used to joke with her daughter Sarah that she would likely finish her degree the same time Sarah did, and imagined her daughter saying, "Oh Mom, you always have to steal my thunder."
On May 12, they will both receive their bachelor's degrees from Lynchburg College - Joanna in psychology and Sarah in history.
But Sarah isn't worried about her mom hogging all the attention. "It's really exciting; we're going to have a party together," she said.
Sarah is a Westover Honors Fellow, and her mother quickly admits that Sarah helped her more than she helped her daughter. "I didn't even know what a thesis was," Joanna said, adding that she also received a lot of help at the Writing Center.
Joanna works full time as administrative assistant in LC's School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has taken two classes a semester for six years and used vacation time to attend summer school.
"I've seen how much work she's done and how much of a struggle it's been sometimes," Sarah said.
Joanna said it was a longtime personal goal to finish her degree, which she started at a community college in Illinois years ago. "It's hard," Joanna said. "Sarah said, 'Mom, did you think college was going to be easy?' For me it's just been discipline."
Thanks to her mom's employment, Sarah is graduating debt free and realizes what a gift that is. Sarah, who minored in museum studies, also worked at LC's Daura Gallery. She has decided to attend the University of Oregon for a master's program in arts and administration with an emphasis in museum studies.
"I'm going to miss her," Joanna said. "I'm proud of her; I'm proud of myself. We've had a lot of fun."
As for the graduation party, "I'm telling Sarah it's for her," Joanna said with a hearty laugh.