Black Mother and Daughter Graduate Together, Making History at Rutgers University

In a moving moment, Latonya Johnson, 43, and her daughter, Laila, 21, joyously celebrate their simultaneous graduation from Rutgers University’s School of Social Work.

Prior to Rutgers, Latonya balanced parenting six children, working full-time, and taking classes part-time. Laila, then a Montclair State student, offered that they pursue degrees together. They both began 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 desire to aid the destitute and elderly led her down the educational path she chose. Meanwhile, her mother, a drug and alcohol counselor, was determined to finish her schooling. She left her part-time employment to concentrate on her education full-time.

Throughout their tenure at Rutgers University, they had separate classes yet supported one other through numerous hardships.

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

Both thanked the Rutgers community for their assistance with their academic endeavors. Latonya emphasized the value of community support for unconventional students like herself.

Looking ahead, both said they plan to complete their schooling. They plan to enroll in Rutgers’ Master of Social Work degree this autumn.

“Her journey has been truly inspiring,” Laila remarked of her mother. “It’s encouraged me to work harder in college.”

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

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