Graduation Stories: Mother-daughter duo graduate at the same time
“It wasn’t planned. I did not intend to graduate with my daughter,” Terri Holness, mother of Rutgers graduate, Jasmine Dennis said.
Holness, who will graduate from William Paterson University, said that the journey to her diploma has been a long one — almost eight years in fact. After dropping out of college in 1995 because she felt she was not smart enough, Holness vowed to never return.
Nevertheless, in 2010 she returned to pursue her degree.
It was very different going back as a non-traditional student, she said. She recalled a moment she felt the difference as an older student when a professor asked the class if everyone knew what the website “Blackboard” was, but she remained confused because she saw him standing right in front of a blackboard in the class. The following years completing her education were rocky, she said.
“Attending college part-time, being a single parent, working full-time, volunteering, making it to almost every one of my daughters extracurricular activities and award ceremonies, and taking care of other responsibilities was definitely crazy at times, but I had to do it,” she said.
Dennis said that going through college with her mother was an experience like no other. It was neat, she said, to help her mother edit work and in turn, have her mother overlook her own homework.
Holness added that they both took challenging classes and when they did not understand the assignments, they did not hesitate to utilize the tutoring services available on campus together.
“We were able to push each other along the way,” Dennis said.
The Rutgers senior kept herself busy in college as the president of the Black Student Union (BSU) on campus.
She credits BSU with her overall growth as a women, saying that her leadership role challenged her to face obstacles she now sees as miniscule. Dennis added that she never missed a BSU meeting because she always felt so at home and through the organization, she gained life long friends.
“Rutgers taught me how to get involved,” Dennis said. “The plethora of resources that this institution has offered me is unbelievable.”
Her advice to the incoming Scarlet Knights is “don’t just ‘go’ to school … Join organizations, party, make mistakes, make the same mistakes and learn from them again.” Lastly, she urged them enjoy their time and embrace the ups and downs that college will bring inevitably bring.
“Embrace and challenge the RU Screw. The four years go fast. Don’t lose yourself in the mix,” she said. “Enjoy every moment, every sleepless night and even that rush you feel from completing that last minute paper you turned in at 11:58 p.m when it was due at 11:59 p.m. Those are the moments that make this Rutgers experience worthwhile.”