NewsBlack Mom and Daughter Make History, Graduate Together from Rutgers University

Black Mom and Daughter Make History, Graduate Together from Rutgers University

Nationwide — In a touching moment, Latonya Johnson, who is 43 years old, and her daughter, Laila, who is 21 years old, are proudly celebrating their simultaneous graduation from Rutgers University’s School of Social Work.

Before Rutgers, Latonya juggled raising six kids, working full-time, and attending classes part-time. It was Laila, then a student at Montclair State, who proposed they pursue degrees together. They both started college at Rutgers in September 2022.

“It’s kind of surreal but it has brought us closer because we connected on a level that I never thought I’d connect with my kids,” Latonya said, according to People.

Laila’s passion for helping the homeless and elderly led her to the educational path she pursued. Meanwhile, her mom, already a drug and alcohol counselor, was determined to complete her education. She quit her part-time job to focus on her studies full-time.

Throughout their time at Rutgers University, they each had their different classes but supported each other through various challenges.

“There were times when I struggled through school,” Latonya said. “But I always thought if my mom can do it, I can.”

Both expressed gratitude for the Rutgers community, which played a vital role in supporting their educational pursuits. Latonya highlighted the importance of community support for nontraditional students like her.

Looking ahead, both of them say they will continue their educational journey. They are set to enroll in Rutgers’ Master of Social Work program this fall.

“Her journey has been truly inspiring,” Laila said about her mom. “It’s encouraged me to work harder in college.”

“It’s such a blessing doing this journey with my daughter,” Latonya said. “I never thought in a million years I’d be graduating with my daughter.”



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