Mother & Son Overcome Incredible Odds, Graduate Together With PhDs

Mom, Son, GraduationBecause we needed a reminder that sometimes, when things go wrong, they can still turn themselves upright, there’s this story: Vickie McBride had her son, Maurice, when she was just 13 years old. That’s jarring, even by our almost un-jarrable standards.

As you can imagine, she was local gossips’ favorite thing to whisper about in her Georgia hometown, but with the help of her mother, a retired teacher, she shut them up by staying in school. Education was an inherited importance. So it was probably a kick in her stomach when Maurice dropped out when he was 16.

But there’s a happy ending for the one-time barely teenage mom and her former high school dropout son. They both graduated from the same university with their PhDs on the same day. Yep, these two went allllll the way in school in a double doctoral victory. (In your face, hateratti.) You just gotta love that kind of win-win for the underdogs. 


It was his suggestion that sparked their journey to the upper echelons of academia. She’d been out of school for a while—though she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees while raising Maurice and, eventually, three other children—and he’d been pursuing a career in the music biz. He remembers calling her and saying, “Hey, I think I'm gonna get my PhD. You wanna do this with me?'”

Mama Vickie wasn’t that enthusiastic. Like to the point of being not into the idea at all.

But his persuasion won her over and she graduated with her PhD in K-12 Education and he earned his in Organizational Management, both from Capella University.

Even better, they’re both continuing the family tradition of teaching. He’s a business professor at Paine College and she’s a middle school and college educator in Virginia. Now Maurice is trying to convince his mom to be his longstanding date for law school, but she’s pretty adamant that she’ll be happily sitting in the audience at graduation, not strutting across the stage.

Is it easier to embark on the back-to-school thing if you’re doing it with someone?

Image via John Walker/Flickr

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