As The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast presents its 2011 commencement ceremony Saturday, May 14 in the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, it will be twice as special for one family celebrating the graduation of both mother and daughter.
Mother Pamela Benjaman and daughter Meghan Benjaman will both take part in the 10 a.m. ceremony where they will each receive their bachelor of science degrees in psychology. Of the 381 candidates eligible for degrees at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, Pamela and Meghan will be among the 263 spring and summer semester graduates participating in the commencement ceremony.
“I started working on my degree in 1986 when I first married,” said Pamela, a military wife. “After every move we made with the military, I would get my family settled into our new home and then take day or night classes at nearby universities. After attending three other universities over the years, I started at Southern Miss in 2009.”
Pamela’s lifelong fascination with psychology and behavioral sciences fueled her desire to earn a degree. After moving to Mississippi, Pamela chose Southern Miss Gulf Coast because of the impressive degree program and convenient location. Meghan, who also felt the need to stay close to home, began taking classes at Southern Miss in 2008.
“I honestly never imagined going to college with my daughter and then graduating together,” said Pamela. “But I believe we motivated each other when we both needed it.”
While taking time off from school during the beginning of her pregnancy, Meghan thought more about her future and career possibilities. While debating about changing her major, Meghan took a statistics course with her mother. It was then she decided to major in psychology.
Following the birth of her son, Meghan worked out a schedule with Pamela where both women could continue their education while caring for the baby. While the two only ever shared that first class together, working toward the same degree allowed mother and daughter to share textbooks, course recommendations and constant support throughout each semester.
“Most people would be mortified to go to college with their mom, but I can say that I absolutely was not bothered at all,” said Meghan. “It was a more rewarding experience and not many people can say that.”
This commencement ceremony will not be the first that Meghan has graduated with a parent. In 2008, Meghan and her father both graduated from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
“Graduating with my bachelor’s degree with my mom is the icing on the cake,” said Meghan. “I am very close to my mom, so this commencement ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am honored and blessed to share with her.”
With a smile, Pamela added that she is also honored to share this commencement ceremony with Meghan. “She has been telling people that she will graduate before me. But only because her first name comes before mine alphabetically. I can't wait until Saturday.”
For more information about Southern Miss Gulf Coast, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast.