Mother-daughter duo earn master's degrees in same year

DURHAM, North Carolina -- North Carolina Central University is giving spring graduates the option of walking in the winter ceremony next December.

A mom and daughter will gladly take that opportunity to celebrate after working so hard to achieve their goals, together.

Shamonna Thomas and daughter Faith Thomas-Lewis both recently completed master's programs at NCCU.

"It has been awesome," said Shamonna. "We actually defended our master's programs on the same day. She did that morning and I did that afternoon so she was downstairs rooting for me."

A Master's of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences is the culmination of a long journey for Shamonna. She spent nearly two decades as a hair dresser and started college while Faith was in the fourth grade.

Shamonna quit grad school when her grandfather got cancer, despite his pleas with her to finish.

"I stopped when he died because I needed some time to get myself together and kind of figure out what direction I wanted to take. And then when Faith was a junior in undergrad, she said, 'Mama, I really want you to finish. You know granddad would really want you to finish.' So I thought about it. I prayed about it. I applied and I was readmitted."

Crowned Miss NCCU as a senior, Faith calls her mom her best friend. She moved back home to complete a master's in social work.

"I really want to do something with at-risk youth like a school social worker or a college advisor. Especially graduating with my mom, that was a big accomplishment for us both," Faith said. "We were both looking forward to it. So, everything happened so abruptly in March, it was kind of like the rug was just took from under our feet."

"Even though we have different degrees, we're under the same umbrella, so we were planning on sitting side by side," Shomonna said. "So, I was really looking forward to sitting with her, holding her hand and experiencing that moment together."

Ceremony or not, the pride is overflowing in both directions.

"The determination, the perseverance, just tenacity that my mother has. From just saying I want more for myself, I want more for my child. I want more for just my life. And just took that and just ran with it and didn't let any trial or tribulation stop her," Faith said. "So, I'm just very, very proud of my mom. I'm just really, really proud of her. "

"To be 23 years old and already have her MSW and wants to help the world, especially troubled youth, that just makes my heart proud," Shomonna said. "She could be doing anything, but she chooses to give back, and that makes her special to me."

Shomonna will continue to teach high school while Faith starts looking for her first job. Good luck to both!
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