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Mother and daughter graduate together in May 2018 ceremony


Clammy hands and the hum of excitement fill McGuirk Arena every year as thousands of students graduate from Central Michigan University. Parents crowd the stands, anxious to see their child walk across the stage.

However, it was a little different for the May family.

In May of 2018, mother and daughter Michelle and Paige May stood next to each other at their commencement ceremony and shared feelings of excitement and pride as they graduated together.

Michelle May accepted her master’s degree in leadership with a concentration in science administration. She said she's very thankful to experience such a unique day with her daughter and called it a "once in a lifetime" opportunity.

“It was a really special day,” she said. “Not only did I see my only daughter graduate with a bachelor’s degree, but in the same ceremony I graduated as well with a master’s degree.”

Her daughter, Paige May, accepted her bachelor’s degree in education with an integrated science major and an English minor. Paige said the day was very memorable for her, and that she was filled with pride and joy as she watched her mother graduate.

“It was really exciting,” said Paige. “It wasn’t just my big day, it was hers too and I am so very proud of her.”

Paige began her journey at CMU in the fall of 2014 after she graduated high school. Once she completed her first year, she convinced her mom to enroll online and go back to school for her master's degree.

“She has always been my biggest cheerleader to get me through my master’s program,” Michelle said about her daughter. 

Now that they've both graduated, they're looking toward the future and trying to figure out what their next moves will be.

After working as a registered nurse for 28 years, Michelle went from being a team leader of the case management department in her company to manager of the pre-certification department. She plans to continue working there.

Paige, however, is returning to school. She will begin graduate school at CMU in several weeks, where she plans on getting a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. While attending school, she said she will also continue her search for a "long term" job.

When asked if she also plans on returning to school, Michelle laughed and said she'll let her daughter earn her doctorate first.

“I think I’m going take a break from school for a little bit,” she said.