Mom and Daughter Graduate on Same Day
Debbie Tyson and daughter Raina Sims both received their UCF degrees
during graduation ceremonies on Friday, May 8.
(Photo: Richard Diaz)
By Charneisha Pates
Debbie Tyson had an early Mother’s Day celebration this week: Both she and one of her daughters graduated from UCF on the same day. Tyson picked up her psychology degree during the 9 a.m. Friday commencement ceremony at CFE Arena, and then watched daughter Raina Sims accept her elementary education degree during the 2:30 p.m. ceremony. Both graduated with honors.
For Tyson, a degree was something she always wanted to attain, but, for the stay-at-home mother, going back to school didn’t always seem to fit into the plans she had for her family. Then, in 2008, her family relocated to Florida and her dreams of obtaining a degree soon became a reality.
Tyson returned to the classroom after 30 years, initially enrolling as a business major at Seminole State College in Sanford. It wasn’t until she took an entry-level psychology class that she discovered a love for psychology and switched her major.
Sims also soon began studying at Seminole State.
“I showed her the ropes, how to get into the honor society, to select classes and professors because I had already taken those classes and professors,” Tyson says. The two spent much of their time at school together, even enrolling in one of the same classes.
“We sat together, did homework together, and ate lunch together,” Sims explains. “I would bring my friends over to the house for lunch, and mom would make soup.”
After graduating from Seminole State, Tyson went on to UCF through DirectConnect, where she studied psychology. Once again, Sims followed in her mom’s footsteps.
“I believe it has been a sense of competition for her to excel, and maintain her GPA,” Tyson says. “It makes me feel like I have showed my children that you can excel.”
Another daughter, Kirsten Sims, will graduate from Lake Mary High School at the end of this month.
After commencement, Tyson plans to continue higher education courses.
“Going to college, studying under well-known professors, and reading material for classes directed my education in many different ways,” Tyson says. “It opened up doors and helped me to realize different potential in myself.”
As for Sims, she hopes to land a job with the Seminole County Public School district.
Editor’s note: This story was slightly edited from its original version to reflect an event that has now taken place in the past.