TROY, Ala. - Among a sea of graduates Friday at Troy University's summer commencement were two Atlanta women for whom the experience was doubly special.
Pam Austin and her daughter, Michonda, both walked across the stage at Trojan Arena to accept criminal justice diplomas Friday -- Pam's a bachelor's and Michonda's a master's.
The two women said they've always planned to graduate together.
"My kids really inspired me to go back to school," said Pam, who took classes with her daughter through TROY Online.
The last few years have been a whirlwind for the Austins, who had to balance work, school and family life. Michonda even slowed her progress to make sure she could share graduation with her mother.
"It's been good -- working and staying up late studying," Pam said. "It's just amazing to see how far we have come to be at this point and to actually graduate together. My daughter decided to wait on mom so we could do it together."
Michonda said the two supported one another throughout their respective journeys. "It's been fun. You've just got to plan your schedule out - come home, eat, do homework, go to sleep, wake back up, do homework and go back to work," she said. "But it's worth it." Friday was also the first time the Austins have seen the Troy Campus, an experience they relished.
"It's lovely here," Pam said. "We had our proctors in Atlanta, but we wanted to see the main campus."
As for the future? The Austins plan to work alongside one another as mother and daughter one day.
For now, Pam is going to pursue her master's degree while Michonda goes for a doctorate.
"When she's sleepy, it's like, 'No, you can't go to sleep, you've got to keep doing your work.' We've got to lose sleep to get that achievement," Pam said.