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Mother and Daughter Simultaneously Earn Degrees at COTC

NEWARK, Ohio, May 6, 2019 — Seeing a child graduate is one of the many highlights of being a parent, but Penny Miller only had seconds to relish her daughter Felicia's achievement before her own name was called to receive a diploma. The mother-daughter duo received associate degrees in business management technology together at Central Ohio Technical College's (COTC) autumn commencement ceremony on Dec. 14, 2018. 

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Despite receiving the same degree at the same time, the two Millers never took a class together and had very different paths to commencement. Even the timing was a coincidence. "We didn't even think about that. I just wanted to be done," Felicia said about scheduling five classes her final semester. In contrast, Penny had just one class left to finish her degree. 

Felicia's college education began 11 years ago in Florida. She attended two schools  – though never completed her education – prior to landing at COTC in August 2017. Determined to finish, this single mother of six took on a full-time course load in addition to full-time employment. 

"My kids see the dedication and hard work. My goal was to teach them that you can do anything you put your mind to. If you work hard enough for it, you can do anything," said Felicia. Her kids took note. "I've noticed my oldest son's grades are awesome, and he's looking forward to his future in college."

Penny, who holds a real estate broker's license in Florida, started at COTC in 2014 as a means to get an Ohio real estate broker's license. "In order for me to get my Ohio license, I either had to take all those classes again and learn the same thing again, or the state of Ohio said get a two-year degree at an Ohio college," Penny explained. "So I said, 'Well I'm going to learn something new.'"

Penny earned enough credits to sit for the Ohio real estate broker exam in June, which she passed. As far as graduating from college in December, she said, "Most of my peers, graduating from high school in 1983, went right to college. I got married and started a family. Here I am at 53 graduating with a degree, so it's exciting."

Both women plan to fill their extra time with family. Felicia is also ready to set new career goals. She accepted a position as an accounting technician with the Department of Defense in Columbus in October. It took nearly a year to get the position, and it's a place she can progress and eventually retire. 

"The professors here have been wonderful, so it's kind of hard to say goodbye. They cared," said Felicia. She credits Professor Cindy Nauer for helping her through the extensive interview process. "She asked me, 'Why do I deserve it?' I was able to use that research and incorporate it into my interview. She really prepared me."

As for her children, she said, "They are excited that we actually do stuff together on the weekends. Everything has just fallen right in line." 

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.