Education

She’s graduating from Sacramento State with her best friend – her mom

Miranda O’Connor, 22, left, will graduate Saturday from California State University, Sacramento. So will her mother, Michelle O’Connor, 45.
Miranda O’Connor, 22, left, will graduate Saturday from California State University, Sacramento. So will her mother, Michelle O’Connor, 45. Abygail Hernandez Photography

They are mother and daughter, decades apart in years but bound by a lifetime of friendship.

On Saturday, the two will share one of life’s pivotal passages. Both will receive their diplomas from Sacramento State in ceremonies at Golden 1 Center.

Miranda O’Connor, 22, and Michelle O’Connor, 45, say they didn’t plan to land in college at the same time and to graduate on the same day. It just worked out that way.

“It’s kind of cool. At first, I was saying, ‘You don’t need to tell anybody that your mom is here. Go do your college thing,’ ” Michelle said. “She kept saying, ‘This is my mom. This is my mom.’ She told me, ‘No. I’m really proud.’ So I got over it.”

They are among the record 5,300 Sacramento State graduates eligible to walk in six commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday at Golden 1 Center.

Michelle said her graduation was a long time coming. She returned to school in 2010, feeling lost after her grandmother died. She took one or two classes at a time. Then, four years ago, after being laid off from her job, she decided there would never be a better time to get serious about college.

“I went back to school full time,” she said. “It worked out that Miranda and I both transferred (from Sierra College) to Sac State at the same time.”

Michelle has an associate of arts degree in deaf studies and has earned a bachelor’s in social work. She hopes to work with veterans.

Daughter Miranda called her mother “amazing.” Miranda said she has earned a bachelor’s degree in English and has been accepted this fall into the Sacramento State credential program to become an English teacher.

Around Mother’s Day, Miranda penned an essay about her love of attending college at the same time as her mother.

“Though we never had classes together, we could always count on one another for another set of eyes on papers, or a sounding board for project ideas,” she wrote.

“It has taken my mother 20 years to graduate, and I am proud to tell everyone I meet about the amazing, inspirational, and unshakable woman who raised me. On May 20th, we both graduate with honors, and I couldn’t have done it without my mom, my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, and my study buddy.”

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