Mother and Daughter Cross Graduation Stage Together - Cleveland Community College, Shelby, NC

Mother and Daughter Cross Graduation Stage Together

It’s not every year that you see a mother and daughter graduate together. Ali Henderson and Judy Henderson Dulin did just that at CCC’s Spring commencement ceremony.

mother and daughter in cap and gown

“Graduating isn’t something I thought I’d ever do, especially beside my mother,” Ali admitted. But she got a second chance and decided to enroll at CCC for a better life for herself and her daughter. “I had a rocky past, one that I’m certainly not proud of. But God gave me grace and turned my life around. I figure the only way I know how to show my gratitude is to always share my testimony and use my past and all my failures to lift someone else up from the dark.” That’s what made her choose her field of study in criminal justice. 

Judy lost her job of 14 years at ABB when the plant closed its doors last year. “I worked remotely for 6 months last year due to COVID, which gave me the opportunity to watch my grandkids. While doing so, I decided to go back to school. As I was going back to school, my church needed workers where my granddaughter was in preschool. Let’s just say God opened the door for me and guided me to where I am now.”

Judy didn’t plan to walk for graduation. In true mother fashion, she wanted all the focus on her daughter. “I am so honored and proud to have graduated with my daughter. In the beginning I wasn’t going to walk because I wanted it to be all about my daughter. I know how hard it was for her being a single mom and working full time. I am so proud of her, and she deserves to be recognized.”

Ali decided she wanted to share the spotlight with her mom and purchased her mom a cap and gown as a Mother’s Day present. “The more I thought about it the more I realized that she deserves this moment and memory just as much as I do. Instead of watching me from the bleachers, I decided we could do it together.”

And together, they walked across the stage on the same night both earning associate degrees. “The older I get, the closer we become. I’m proud of her and only want the best in her life since she poured into mine,” Ali says of her mom.

However, neither member of this duo is finished with college just yet. Both ladies have plans to further their education by obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Ali graduated with and Associate in Criminal Justice and plans to continue her education with a goal of becoming a juvenile probation officer. Judy graduated with her Associate in General Education and plans to pursue a degree in education to become a Pre-K teacher.