Mom watches daughter earn business degree – and is next in line to receive her own

September 13, 2013 //

For many Temple University students, Sept. 12 was a normal Thursday during the third week of classes. For Deborah Donato and her daughter, Caitlin, it was one of the proudest days of their lives: both received their undergraduate degrees from the Fox School of Business.

Deborah Donato and her daughter, Caitlin, after receiving their undergraduate business degrees from the Fox School on Sept. 12, 2013.

Photo: Jim Roese

“Walking here, it seems like another day, like I’m walking to class,” Caitlin said shortly before commencement. “Except I’m not.”

With Caitlin crossing the stage right in front of her, Deborah could both witness and experience the same joy of earning a diploma. Caitlin’s degree is in marketing; Deborah’s is in human resource management.

But that wasn’t Deborah’s only unique view of graduation. She’s also a Temple employee in only her second month. Deborah had left a 30-year career in the medical field to pursue her degree full-time and to change paths. Katherine Nelson, a human resource management faculty member who had Deborah in class, recommended her for an open administrative coordinator position in the department, where Deborah started July 1.

As Deborah was completing her degree, Caitlin moved out of the house and in with her boyfriend, Jay, while Deborah relocated her mother from Florida to live in their Lansdale, Pa., home.

Photo: Jim Roese

Both mother and daughter carried transfer credits to Temple and finished their degrees in three years by taking summer courses. Their only class together also happened to be their last, the Global Business Policies capstone, which they finished in mid-August. They drove to the class together and shared snacks during it.

It was only a few nights before graduation, as Deborah steam cleaned her graduation gown at home, that she started realizing her – and her daughter’s – accomplishment.

“I’ve always been a mom, and it’s always been about her, not me,” Deborah said. “To have this connection now as adults, we’re more friends than mom and daughter.”