Brother-sister wind up graduating college the same day

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

Each year around this time I enjoy looking at the happy graduation photos on Facebook. I “like” them and congratulate the parents and the graduates.

It is a time to celebrate their achievements: The graduates for their hard work and success, and the parents for their financial contributions and sacrifice. Both are equally important.

This year, I am not only “liking” and congratulating, but I am also celebrating. We are proud parents who made it through the college years.

We did it a little differently. We had two children graduate on the same day. That must not happen all that often, unless they are twins, which in our case they are not.

Why sit through two drawn-out commencements when we can just cover everything with one? And why not save a little on the graduation parties? One party was all we needed.

Of course, I was all over Facebook with photos, and we got loads of responses, like other parents who plastered graduation photos all over their threads.

I haven’t done that since the kids graduated from high school. And while that was very special and joyful, it was not on the same scale. You’re sort of supposed to graduate from high school. The college part is a little more complicated and expensive.

But I did plenty of posting back then also, because that’s what loving parents do: They brag about their kids’ achievements any way possible.

Now, you may be asking: How did publisher John pull off this incredible task of making sure that two of his kids who are not the same age graduate from college on the same day?

While I often consider myself the master of efficiency, I cannot take credit for this. Even I could not have planned this out.

Here is how it happened.

Daughter Stephanie finished high school and started her college education at Brazosport College, where she took all her basic courses before transferring to the University of Houston.

At the same time, a part-time job she got in high school developed into a store manager’s position, and she kept being promoted to bigger and bigger stores, which took up more and more of her time.

She was taking classes at the same time. But juggling a full-time job and a full academic load sometimes resulted in having to drop a few classes, which slowed things down a little.

Meanwhile, her big brother, Bobby, was serving in the Air Force as a medic for six years, which included two missions to Afghanistan. He took some college classes between these tours, and upon completing his commitment to the Air Force, decided to return to the civilian world as a full-time college student.

And that’s how he became a Cougar.

For the next few years, both of them wound their way around jobs and college life at their own pace.
About a year ago, Stephanie decided to quit managing stores and focus solely on getting her degree, and she really turned it on, taking as many as six classes a semester.

It then became clear this past fall that if everything went according to plan, both Stephanie and Bobby were on course to graduate this spring, and that’s exactly what happened.

On Saturday, May 12, Sharon, my wife, and I were sitting in the second level of the magnificent TDECU Stadium at U of H, the proud parents of two graduates in a sea of graduates and family members.

As they walked into the stadium, it seemed surreal how their totally different paths over the years converged on that day. It was a special time, as I reflected on how each of them made it there.

They waved, and we took pictures and videos, and screamed their names as loud as we could, like the thousands of other relatives and friends of graduates who came to enjoy this great day.

We listened to a very interesting speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and somewhat less interesting speeches by everyone else.

But all of that was just the icing on the cake. I was watching two of my children, almost five years apart, graduate from college on the same day. It doesn’t get much better than that.