Sunday, May 11, 2003

Mom, daughter share in the pomp

'We're going to be celebrating this weekend!'

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Anita Stojakovich and daughter Megan both graduated from the College of Mount St. Joseph Saturday.
(Photo submitted)
DELHI TOWNSHIP - During her first few years in college, Megan Stojakovich would complain to her mother about extensive homework, difficult exams and grueling papers.

The response was always the same: "You'll be fine, dear."

In the past year, that response has changed. Now mother Anita's response became more sympathetic: "I know! Me too!"

The mother-daughter duo from Green Township graduated Saturday from the College of Mount St. Joseph.

Anita's commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. went off without a hitch.

But Megan's 3 p.m. service ran into trouble. The 2,000 guests and 250 graduates were evacuated from the gym into Harrington Center for 25 minutes when weather threatened. The commencement proceeded at 3:45 p.m.

"This will be a day to remember in more ways than one for our graduates," said Linda Liebau, executive director of public information for the college.

Megan, 22, received her bachelor's degree in communication arts.

Anita, 53, was in the first graduating class of the Teaching Education and Apprenticeship Master's (TEAM) program, receiving her teaching degree in inclusive early childhood.

"We're going to be celebrating this weekend," Anita said.

Anita, who has a background in social work, previously worked in an intervention room, where she assisted students who needed academic and behavioral help.

That job reinforced her dream of becoming a teacher. When she heard about the accelerated TEAM program at the Mount, it cinched the deal. But first, she consulted her daughter.

"She asked if I would mind her graduating the same day from the same school. She thought she was going to 'steal my glory' or whatever," Megan said. "But I was proud of her."

"I always thought this should be Megan's day," Anita said. "But she has been my biggest cheerleader."

Anita was one of 13 TEAM students graduating from the taxing one-year program that leads to a master's degree in education and state licensure. By day, the students teach as an apprentice in a Cincinnati Public School - Anita assisted Sharon Holland in her second-grade classroom at Linwood Elementary School.

After a full day of that, the TEAM students take an evening of graduate-level classes.

Megan was busy, too. Among her many activities, she co-oped in the admissions office, served as president of the campus activities board and the Alpha Chi academic fraternity, was a cheerleader, art editor of the student newspaper and orientation leader.

Though the two didn't "run in the same circles," Mom said, they would see each other on campus. Often that was at the library, while Megan, a tour guide, was leading groups around the school.

"I would be like, 'Say hi to my mom. She's studying,'" Megan said.

Dad Paul was in the crowd Saturday, as was Megan's brother, Chad, who will get his master's degree at Ohio State University next year.

"His graduation won't be nearly as exciting as this graduation," Megan said.


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