Mother and Son Graduate College Together After Making the Promise Almost 20 Years Ago
Most of the time, parents are the ones talking you into pursuing a college degree. But for a Maryland man named Immanuel Patton, it was almost the other way around. Nearly two decades ago, the now 23-year-old graduate promised his mom, Carolyn, that they would get their diplomas at the same. And despite the obstacles they faced along the way, they walked across the stage at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) together. It fulfilled a wish they both worked hard for and will improve their quality of life in the future.
Patton was still in kindergarten when he assured his mom that one day they'd both be college graduates. “I said, ‘Mom, you know what? I'm going to make sure you get this degree at the same time that I do.' I made sure I stuck to that promise regardless of all the hardships and everything like that. I wanted to make sure that I be a man of my word,” the man told WBAL-TV. Now, he has a brand new Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration, while his mom earned a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities.
The road to graduation day was far from easy. They both were drawn to UMGC because it's devoted to online programs. They enrolled in 2020, and as the lessons got more complex, they both had to cheer each other to not give up. When the mom wanted to quit, Immanuel would say “Ma, you’ve got to keep it going. I know you want to stop. We got to keep going,” while she propelled him when his GPA dropped to a 1.0 and on academic probation. “You can't get below a 2.0,” she told him and was thrilled to see him get As and raise his average to 3.0.
Carolyn had made two previous attempts at earning her bachelor's degree, but she was more preoccupied with making sure her son made it to college. “For me, I had sort of gave up on it because I had already accomplished some associate's degrees and then I had started my bachelor's degree back in 1995 but life happened. Things got in the way,” she told Good Morning America. However, Immanuel never let go of his promise. “He never allowed it to die. It was continuously, ‘You know, mom, we're gonna do this.’”
Both mom and son work at the Anne Arundel Community College, but their new degrees mean different things for each of them. For the older Patton, a single mother from Mississippi, it means a raise. “It's giving me an increase in my salary, but also, (I will) be able to help other people in society,” she said. Her son may have found a new vocation. He said he is now interested in academic advising because of all he learned from supporting his mother while they both earned their degrees
Above all, they are both more proud of each other than ever. “It was an experience of a lifetime,” Carolyn Patton concluded.
Carolyn and Immanuel Patton, a mother-and-son duo from Baltimore, graduated together from the University of Maryland Global Campus at the same time.