YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Close to 4,000 graduates were honored Saturday at the Eastern Gateway College Commencement ceremony. One of the graduates had delayed her education last century but returned to school and got her degree.
The graduation was held at Stambaugh Stadium in downtown Youngstown.
This was the college’s largest class ever with 3,700 students graduating between the Youngstown and Steubenville campuses as well as online courses from all 50 states.
“One of the most diverse, with more women and minorities graduating today than ever before,” said EGCC President Michael Geoghegan during the ceremony.
About 550 students attended the ceremony, including a mother and daughter who graduated together: Suzanne DeBray from Lisbon and Samantha Hoit from Weirton, West Virginia, a mother and daughter who earned their degrees in accounting and IT.
Suzanne stopped going to school to raise her children.
“She was going to school for accounting when she had me, and you know, as a mom of three kids myself, I can personally vouch for the fact that going to school with small children is not an easy feat,” Hoit said.
“Sometimes life gets in the way, and you have to wait 30 years to go back, but it’s doable,” DeBray said.
When DeBray decided she wanted to complete her degree, EGCC’s Teamsters Union Benefit let her and Hoit go back to school.
Both were eager to help each other out with schoolwork and watching the kids — all to make it to graduation day.
“Lots of emails back and forth, editing each other’s papers and whatnot, because Mom hates English,” Hoit said.
DeBray laughed and said, “True.”
Hoit is continuing her education at Eastern Gateway, aiming for a degree in Criminal Justice Security.
DeBray will now be looking for a job in the accounting field.
They say they will continue to support one another every step of the way.
“I’m really proud of my mom for going back and making her dreams come true,” Hoit said
Other graduates are also pursuing further degrees from other universities or jobs in their field.