East Texas Mother, son both celebrate college graduation in same - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas Mother, son both celebrate college graduation in same ceremony


Thousands of students gathered at UT Tyler Friday and Saturday, as the Class of 2014 finally got their opportunity to walk across the stage.

But for one East Texas family, the event was all the more special, as both mother and son celebrated their graduations together at the same time.

61-year-old Carolyn O’Neill was awarded her diploma, nearly 10 years after beginning her journey to finally securing a business degree.

“You never get too old to learn and if you stop building your mind it turns to mush,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill is a part-time instructor herself, teaching professional office technology courses at Texas State Technical College in Marshall. Nearly 10 years of part-time classes later, she’s now finally a college graduate.

“I'm an educator, so I talk to my students about continuing your education and never giving up on it, and making goals and not giving up on those,” she said. “This was one of my goals.”

If the day wasn’t special enough, the family was surprised to learn that O’Neill’s 24-year-old son would also be graduating in the same ceremony.

“It’s a little weird, more surprising,” said her son, Eric O’Neill, graduating with a business degree in marketing. “We were talking about it and then all of the sudden, oh, we're graduating at the same time, because it wasn't planned.”

Not to mention, O’Neill is the first male in the family to ever receive a college degree.

“It's extremely important,” he said. “I’m glad I finally got here and got through it and got done.”

Also in attendance, Carolyn’s father and Eric’s grandfather. At 93 years old, he’s a two-time Purple Heart recipient and WWII veteran.

“I've outlived just about everybody else I knew,” Charles O’Neill said. “I think it's a great honor to see this kind of thing happen. He's the first male in our family to graduate from college.”

Grandpa wasn’t surprised however at the feat of the two younger O’Neills.

“Oh yeah, I had money on it,” he added.

“Yeah, he helped finance it!” Carolyn exclaimed.

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