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Inter-generational achievement

Mother, daughter to collect business degrees at same convocation ceremony

special feature: Student success spring 2018

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring 2018 convocation ceremonies.

By Mandy Cook

A mother-daughter graduating duo have taken a surprisingly similar path to arrive at their shared convocation day this spring – just with a few decades in the difference.

From left are Colleen McConnell and Alexandra Vaughan-Jackson.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

While mom Colleen McConnell first enrolled at Memorial in 1984 planning to study biology and physics, daughter Alexandra Vaughan-Jackson signed up for biochemistry in 2012.

But on Wednesday, May 30, the women will collect their newly minted business degrees during the same convocation ceremony at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.

Naturally enough, they’re both excited about the upcoming event.

“It’s awesome!” said Alexandra, who will receive a bachelor of commerce (co-op.) degree.

“Mom has put in so much work into getting this degree and I am so proud of her. With us graduating at the same time, it’s like a culmination of both of our hard work towards our degrees, and I cannot wait.”

“It’s only really just now sinking in how special it is,” said Colleen, who’ll pick up a bachelor of business administration degree. “Graduating together or even doing a similar program wasn’t something we had considered.”

Natural fit

Each woman took a somewhat circuitous route to the Faculty of Business Administration, they say, but, in the end, the business curriculum made a lot of sense for both of them.

While Alexandra is also currently pursuing a bachelor of arts (she hopes to finish this fall), she found the commerce program’s coursework and work terms interesting and engaging.

Colleen, meanwhile, says since she works in a business environment, she wanted a better understanding of the tools and concepts businesspeople use.

“I had a number of courses well in hand at Memorial, plus I live and work in St. John’s, so I had the option to attend courses on campus or via distance,” she said.

Daughter Alexandra and mom Colleen will cross the stage at the same convocation ceremony.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Another interesting intersection of the women’s educational experience was when Alexandra landed a work term at Husky Energy – which just so happens to be where Colleen is employed as a communications specialist.

While they were in completely separate areas of the company, they say it was yet another memorable crossover of their time together as Memorial students.

And they both agree that one supported the other – Alexandra says her mother’s excellent organizational skills “really helped” her achieve her degree and Colleen says it was a lot of fun bouncing ideas off her daughter at the dinner table – there was also a healthy amount of competition.

In their one shared course, Business 7000, they chose the same topic for their final paper (albeit with very different approaches) and haven’t forgotten the final scores.

“We both received an A — she finished three points ahead of me,” said Colleen, with a proud smile.

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