Mom, Dad and Son Graduate Together

Article Access Magazine, Fall 2009 Issue
Ray Jr., Robin and Ray Harrington

It’s fairly rare for a mother, father and son to attend college at the same time. It’s also rare for them to graduate in the same semester. It’s near impossible for them to graduate on the same day. But Sacramento State graduates Robin, Ray and Ray, Jr. defied the odds and did all three.

The improbably event took place for the Harrington family December 2008 at Arco Arena. Mom Robin received her master’s degree in education, dad Ray received his bachelor’s degree, also in education, and son Ray Jr. got his bachelor’s in criminal science.

So was the same-day graduation by design? “We didn’t plan it,” says Robin, laughing. “It just happened. “My husband and I both wanted to model the importance of higher education for our son,” she says. “We were both peace officers when we started going to college in 2000 and we could only take one or two classes a semester.”

CCE’s classes, scheduled for working adults, helped mom and dad balance a busy work, educational and family life. “It was a constant juggling act, raising our son, working and taking classes,” says Ray Sr. “My wife and I looked at it as a way to provide a good example for our son.”

And Ray Jr. is the first to say they were great role models. “When things seemed tough for me, I would think about all they were doing and I knew I could manage it,” he says. “They were very encouraging.”

The encouragement went both ways, however. “If I was watching TV and my mom would ask me, ‘don’t you need to study?’ I would say ‘Yeah.  And don’t you need to study too?’”

The Harringtons celebrated their special day with their extended families, coming from Southern California and the East Coast. Ray Sr. was the first in his family to graduate from college, and Ray Jr. was the first in his generation to graduate as well.

“Our families are elated,” Ray Sr. says.

“Sacramento State is a wonderful university and we’re so proud to be graduates,” Robin says. “It’s a real jewel in the community.”

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Access Magazine. It has been edited for length and clarity. Article written by Kim Nava.