Photo: Kimberlyn, left, and Maleatra Granger, a daughter and mother from Birmingham, will graduate from the Wallace State Community College nursing program, participating in the nursing program’s pinning ceremony on Thursday before participating in the college-wide commencement exercises on Friday.
HANCEVILLE – If you are a mother – especially a single mother – you know there are many times that you make sacrifices for your children, sacrifices that sometimes go unnoticed or without acknowledgement because that’s just part of being a parent. And you wouldn’t do anything any differently even if you could because you want the best for your children.
Maleatra Granger is that type of mother, according to her daughter, Kimberlyn Granger, and now both are graduating from Wallace State with Associate in Applied Science degrees in nursing. That’s right, mother and daughter are both walking across this stage Friday night, completing an adventure they began about three years ago when Kimberlyn told her mom she was going into nursing school. When her mom told her she’d thought about doing the same, Kimberlyn told her “Well then, we might as well go at the same time.” And that’s what they did.
With credits they’d earned previously, the pair was able to take every single nursing class together at Wallace State. Kimberlyn said sometimes people would ask her if it was odd or if she gets embarrassed about going to college with her mom, and the answer was always no, “because she’s really my best friend outside of school anyway,” she said.
Both women had a built-in support system as they went through one of the hardest programs at Wallace State. Kimberlyn said her wiser mom helped her see things from a different perspective when Kimberlyn got stuck on a problem. Maleatra said Kimberlyn’s organizational skills helped her prepare for tests and exams. “Because I worked, she’d make us study guides whenever we had tests coming up,” Maleatra said. Kimberlyn would tell her to look over the PowerPoints and study guides when she had time at work to make sure she was prepared. “Sometimes she thinks she’s my mom and tries to boss me,” Maleatra said.
Through it all, the duo held each other up, encouraged each other and maybe even competed a little at first. But now they are celebrating their success, each more proud of the other for their accomplishments. “I think I’m more excited about her graduating that I am myself,” Kimberlyn said. “I’m just proud she got the opportunity to do it.”
The family has had to overcome struggles over the years, a house fire, health scares and lost jobs, just to name a few. Kimberlyn said her parents divorced when she was 9 years old, something that took her a while to understand was probably for the best. Kimberlyn is the second of Maleatra’s three children, and Maleatra always put her children first, even if it meant putting her own schooling aside or even quitting a job one time to take care of her son when he was sick.
“I tried to make sure that they had the foundation that they needed,” she said. “Being there for them was more a focus than what I felt like I needed to do for me.”
With her children growing older and her youngest in high school, Maleatra decided to go back to school.
“Which I gave her the idea, by the way,” Kimberlyn said proudly.
“I felt like at that point that I could take the time, because everybody was doing pretty much what they needed to do for their future,” Maleatra said. “So it was a good time for me to get into what I needed to do, because they weren’t always going to be there.”
When Kimberlyn started college, she told her mom she could go to college, too, offering to help out at home financially with proceeds from her own job at the time. By the time Kimberlyn brought up the subject of nursing school, Maleatra was working as a caregiver for a quadriplegic patient, so going into nursing was a natural fit.
Both women said it’s been fun – aside from the stress – to come to school together. Logically, Kimberlyn said it made sense for both of them to come to the same college instead of driving to two different colleges for the same purpose. They chose Wallace State’s nursing program after touring the “jaw-dropping” facilities at the college. They were also impressed by the helpfulness and hospitality of the staff during their visit. “All the teachers are like, hey, how are you doing, even though we didn’t go here and they didn’t know that, but they were nice and welcoming and we really liked that,” Kimberlyn said.
“And once you did talk to them, you got the feeling that they wanted you to succeed,” Maleatra said. “You felt like it was as important to them, just like it’s important to us.”
As they started classes, most teachers didn’t realize the pair was mother and daughter. Some thought they were sisters or just two people who shared the same name. Kimberlyn said it was pretty funny when people realized they were mother and daughter.
Kimberlyn said she’s not sure if she would have done as well or even completed the program had her mother not been by her side. “I felt if I was by myself I would have given up a long time ago,” she said.
Her mother disagreed; sure her daughter would have gone on to finish even if she hadn’t been by her side. “But going through it with her, I understood the complete stressors of being in nursing school,” she said. “Because just like there were times she may have felt like pulling her hair out, I felt like pulling my hair out, too.”
Luckily, they had each other during those times and on Friday they’ll be beside each other again as they receive their diplomas. And, if things work out, they may even work together.
Before they walk across the stage on Friday, mother and daughter will participate in the pining ceremony for nursing students on Thursday evening. The pinning ceremony is a special service, which marks their successful completion of the program and during which they take their pledge as nurses.
Wallace State will celebrate commencement on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m. in Tom Drake Coliseum. The public is invited to attend. For more information, visit www.wallacestate.edu.