For many, college is the first time a student is away from their parents. A tumultuous time where you must figure things out on your own. But what happens when your parents aren’t just a phone call away or close by, but are right there in college with you?
For the Adams, college is a family affair.
Kimberly Adams, Karl Adams and their daughter Katherine are all graduating from Mercer University this May after both parents decided to go back to school.
Four years later, they are sharing much more than just a last name.
“I don’t see them around [campus] too much, but my parents in themselves are having a college experience at the same time,” Katherine said.
Kimberly and Karl met in 1988 at Macon State College. In their freshman year they decided to drop out to marry and start a family, expecting to continue their education soon after.
“When I asked her father for permission to marry her, he said ‘fine but promise me you’ll get a college degree one day,’” Karl said. “That has haunted me for 25 years.”
So when Kimberly began working in the Mercer University Office of Admissions in 2001, she decided to reboot her plans of getting a college education. Karl followed soon after.
“I had found in my career that jobs that I wanted to pursue — I was not able to because I did not have my degree,” Kimberly said.
Kimberly graduated with her undergraduate degree from the Stetson School of Business in 2009 before deciding to earn her MBA. She also moved to her current position of University Minister Assistant.
Karl began his degree at Mercer in 2010 but had to delay his educational plans due to complications from back surgery.
Eventually quitting his job at the local YKK Zipper factory to focus on his education full time, Karl is graduating at 46 years old with a liberal arts degree from Penfield College. He plans to begin his master’s degree this summer with the Tift College of Education in hopes of securing a teaching job.
Throughout all of this time, Katherine grew up in and around the university, coming to events and getting excited about college.
“When Katherine was in middle school and high school, we always brought her to Mercer events. Trying to get that Bear Spirit,” Kimberly said.
Now 22 years old, Katherine will be graduating with a degree in sociology and will begin medical school at Mercer in the fall. Although having your parents with you at college is unconventional, Katherine had nothing but positive things to say about her situation.
“I am proud of my parents too . . . I remember growing up and seeing how difficult it was. I think that is another reason why I was so motivated to get my degree in four years. I have always encouraged them, and they have encouraged me,” Katherine said.
Kimberly will also be graduating at 46 years old with her MBA. She plans to stay at her current position at the university.
Because the Adams family began pursuing their degrees at different times, they initially never thought they would be together in their educational endeavors.
“It all just fell into place . . . It just kinda dawned on us — we are all supposed to graduate in 2016,” Kimberly said.
Despite the unique nature of their situation, all of the Adams were in high spirits when learning of their shared graduation date.
“Graduating at the same time as my parents has really taught me the importance of family and why it is important to stay together,” Katherine said.
Katherine’s parents also stressed the importance of her graduation over their own. They even asked Katherine how she would feel if they all walked at the same time and will be hosting a separate graduation party just for her. They wanted to recognize her achievement of getting a degree right out of high school, an asset they failed to realize at the same age.
“We are humble at our graduation, but we are really excited and proud of [Katherine],” Kimberly said.
There is still yet another graduation in the Adams house this year: Kole, the youngest child in the Adams family, will be graduating from elementary school this May.
“I think this is the beginning of a legacy. I think our children and our grandchildren will go here,” said Karl.