On Thursday, a special duo walked across the stage at the graduation ceremony for Chicago State University, earning their degrees from the institution.
According to PEOPLE, 62-year-old Belinda Berry and 25-year-old Karea Berry made history by becoming the university’s first grandmother-granddaughter duo to graduate in the school’s 150-year history.
“It meant the world to me, because that’s the person, aside my from my daughter, that means the most to me,” Karea said. “To be making her proud while she was making me proud was so awesome.”
The ladies graduated with their bachelor’s degrees and plan to obtain their master’s degrees …together.
While both graduates started college in 2010, they didn’t expect to finish together. Barry entered college right after completing high school but took time off following the birth of her daughter in 2012. In 2015, she returned as a full-time student.
The young graduate admits that initially, she wasn’t all that excited to run into her grandmother on campus.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, no,'” she remembered. “My grandma is on campus yelling my name? She’d say ‘Don’t you have to be in class?’ ”
But as time progressed she had a change in attitude.
“Just knowing she was there brightened my day,” Berry, who received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and plans to pursue a master’s in mental health counseling, said.
Her grandmother has a different path. Belinda Berry graduated from high school in the 1970s, but left college to work and provide for her two daughters. She also was caring for her elderly uncle who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Belinda also took in Karea when she was just 1, in hopes of giving her a better life. She didn’t think she’d ever have a chance of graduating from college with her degree.
But when she got laid off from her job, instead of moping, she enrolled in night classes and picked up a job doing clerical work at the school, she said.
But when she got laid off from her job as a hospital administrative assistant, she used the opportunity to enroll in classes, attending at night while doing occasional clerical work at the school, she says.
Congrats to the lovely duo!