‘It was tough, but we did it’: Mom and daughter graduate college together


This Mother’s Day, an East Texas mom is celebrating a major accomplishment, one she achieved alongside her daughter.

Amy Weakley completed her bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Texas at Tyler this semester.

As Amy walked the stage on May 6, daughter Madison was right behind her mom.

“Not only am I excited for myself to graduate, but I’m really proud of my mom for also being able to,” said Madison.

The path to graduation was not an easy one for mom or daughter.

“She could’ve given up but she didn’t,” Madison said of her mom. “She kept powering through, and that’s what she does with everything.”

“A lot classes I took at night,” Amy explained. “Then you come home and do homework and you’re up late.”

While her daughter finished college in four years, Amy took several classes a semester for eight years while also working full-time for the UT Tyler School of Business and Technology.

“If you know Amy, sometimes you know things are tough, but not because Amy told you,” Dr. Barbara Wooldridge said of the colleague who would later become her student.

“I realized how bright she was so I started nagging,” said Wooldridge. “‘When are you going to apply to school? When are you going to apply to school?'”

Amy said that type of support from family and friends helped get her back into the classroom after 15 years away.

“It’s the fear of ‘I’m going to be the old person in the classroom, and am I going to remember how to do A+B=C?'” she said. “But you figure it out.”

Those around Amy say her persistence extends far beyond the classroom.

She gave birth to Madison six months after graduating high school. In the years to come, Jamie Nelson saw firsthand the struggles that came her friend’s way.

“Just some of the typical challenges of single motherhood,” said Nelson. “Waiting for paychecks the stress of just raising a child, and she never let that get her down. [She was] always focused on providing the best life for Madison and always being positive.”

In 2004, Amy got married. She said Clint was not only her husband, but also a dad to Madison.

Within months of their wedding, doctors diagnosed Clint with bipolar disorder, which he battled for the next 11 years.

“My step dad passed away. He committed suicide two years ago,” a tearful Madison explained. “It was right before finals week. It was hard on me, and I cant imagine how hard it was on Mom.”

Despite their devastation, Amy and Madison chose to finish their classes and take finals.

“I know we both just finished strong that semester,” said Madison. “He’d be proud of Mom for sure and I think he’d be really proud of me too.”

“I think no matter what you’re going through, you can always push through and meet your goals,” Amy said. “It just takes dedication and determination.”

Two qualities that were instilled in Amy by her own mom.

“Everyday you wake up and have a smile on your face and that’s that,” Amy said. “It’s a choice. It’s what I did. It’s what I do everyday.”

Graduation day was no exception.

“I’m really proud of her for sticking with it and accomplishing something she never thought she would,” said Madison.

Madison will begin pursuing her master’s in accounting this fall. Her mom will start graduate school at the same time to pursue her master’s in business administration.