The graduation ceremony at MTSU included a mother-son moment that doesn’t happen often.
In the procession were local resident Melonie Turner and her son, Drew Anderson. The two graduated last Saturday with bachelor’s degrees — hers in professional studies organizational leadership, and his in public administration.
“I started taking classes at Motlow in 2004,” said Turner. “I’ve worked at Ben Lomand for more than 36 years, but going to college is something I’ve always wanted to do. I had four children getting their college degrees so I couldn’t let them outdo me.”
Anderson started taking college classes in the fall of 2008 at Motlow after graduating from Warren County High School in 2001.
“I just didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up,” said Anderson in his decision to postpone college. “I didn’t have any bills so I decided I could take some time to figure things out before I went to college.”
Anderson says he was encouraged to return to school by his stepfather, Tony Turner.
“I know my mother and stepfather are divorced, but Tony really encouraged me to do something more than what I was doing. A college degree doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. However, it does put you in a better position in life. Tony wanted that for me.”
Graduating together wasn’t entirely planned, says Turner.
“Sometime in the spring, I told Drew that I thought I would graduate in August. He added up his credits and thought he could graduate then as well if he took enough summer classes. He worked really hard so we could graduate together.”
Turner graduated with honors.
“I graduated cum laude, and I’ve very proud of that,” said Turner. “But I would never dream of taking away anything from my son. He worked hard for this. I’m so proud of him. Our graduation was a very special day. It was amazing.”
Anderson walked across the stage with his mother sitting on the front row.
“As I walked across the stage, I could see my mom sitting on the front row,” said Anderson. “That was special to me. I was the last in my family, as far as my siblings, to graduate college. To be able to do that with my mom is something I will always remember.”
As a divorced mother of four grown children, returning to college wasn’t easy, says Turner.
“I want to thank my parents and my children for emotionally supporting me and always being there,” she said. “College wasn’t easy, but they have been such troopers through the whole thing. I can’t thank them enough. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. This was one more accomplishment down.”
Turning the ceremony into a family reunion was the fact numerous family members attended the ceremony, including Turner’s mother, father and other children, and Anderson’s wife, Heather, and his father and stepmother, Trent and Linda Anderson.
While Turner has no plans of leaving her job at Ben Lomand, Anderson has had three job offers since graduation.
Turner would like to share these words with others that have a dream they feel they feel might be slipping away.
“Maybe someone will be inspired by this story,” said Turner. “I always say, ‘Never stop believing.’ If you have a dream, go for it. Don’t give up. Anything is possible. Never stop believing.”