LAWRENCEVILLE - Denise Daniels didn't plan to graduate from college at the same time as her daughter.
Nevertheless, today Daniels is receiving her bachelor's degree in business from the University of Phoenix, while her daughter, Katrina, will receive her master's in business administration from the same institution.
The Lawrenceville residents both attended classes at the university's Gwinnett Learning Center in Duluth.
Denise Daniels, who will retire in less than five years, said she was pursuing a degree at a college in New York, but she quit her studies when she got pregnant in the early 1980s with her son. She told herself she'd resume classes when he turned 5. Later, she said she'd go back after he finished high school.
She didn't return until she saw the work her daughter was doing in graduate school.
"I said, 'I could do this,'" Denise Daniels said. "Maybe it's my time now."
Denise Daniels said as a parent, she's used to encouraging her children in their goals. But when she decided to finish her course work, she received a lot of support from Katrina and her son, Creighton, who is working on an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
"There were plenty of nights where we'd say, 'I'm writing a paper on this and this. Can you help me?'" Denise Daniels said. "We collaborated a lot."
Katrina Daniels, a permanent substitute at Peachtree Ridge High who graduated from North Gwinnett High School in 2002, said she's considering pursuing a specialist's degree in education. She also plans to become a certified teacher.
Her mother, however, said she needs some rest, after working full time and taking classes Saturday mornings. Denise Daniels, who works at Georgia Gwinnett College, said going back to school has been a journey - "a good journey," she said.
"It reinforced that education is a lifelong process," she said. "You're always learning."