32 years in the making: Mother and son graduate together


Sindi Leak and Trayton Wimmer pose for a selfie in the SAC basketball courts before graduating Dec. 17 from Central Michigan University. The mother and son each received bachelor's degrees during the 1 p.m. ceremony at McGurik Arena. 

Sindi Leak and her son Trayton Wimmer were handed their diplomas on Dec. 17. 

Leak, 52, is originally from California but has lived in Michigan for most of her life. After graduating from Central Montcalm High School in 1988, Leak attended Ferris State University with an undeclared major. Due to medical reasons, Leak left Ferris after just one year. She got married in 1990 and started a family in 1992. 

Leak said she always wanted to finish college but raising her family was her focus. 

In 2008, she became a single mom and decided then she wanted to go back to school. Two years later, she earned her associate's degree in health information systems from Montcalm Community College and started her career in the pharmacy department at CVS. 

In 2010, the same year she earned her associate's, Leak moved to Mount Pleasant. She remarried, to her now-husband Michael, in 2013 and has been raising her six kids. 

For the last five years, Leak has been taking one to three classes a semester at Central Michigan University, working toward a degree in community development in health science. The degree aligns with her current job, she said.

And while Leak said she was already where she wants to be, there was that one accomplishment she wanted to add to her resume. It was slow and steady work toward her bachelor's while working a full time job. 

“I am finally putting a big red X in a box, something I have been waiting 32 years to do,” she said of earning her diploma.

Wimmer, meanwhile, is Leak’s first child to graduate from college. His mother said she could not be more proud of him.

“Life is very busy and can go in a different direction than originally planned,” Leak said. 

After graduating from Mount Pleasant High School in 2015, Wimmer, 26, joined the Navy as an information system technician specialist. He didn't plan on going to college, but after being offered a full ride from his time serving in the Navy, he came back to Mount Pleasant and attend CMU. 

Wimmer graduated with a degree in information technology. He currently has an internship with Content Management System Internet and plans to work there, full-time, as a network engineer for now. 

Leak originally was not planning on walking at graduation, but when mother and son realized they would be graduating together, Wimmer encouraged his mom to walk with him. They were not scheduled to walk at the same ceremony but both requested to be in the same ceremony and the university granted them the opportunity.  

They had hoped to take a class together, but since they had different majors, it did not work out. Well, not exactly. 

Wimmer did take Religion 334, Death and Dying -- a class Leak had taken the previous spring. She was able to help Wimmer understand the concepts and stay on top of his first eight-week course.

They have several other family connections to CMU, including Leak's daughter Mara and her nephew Keegan. 

Leak said although she was not able to take a class with her son she was able to take a class with her nephew. 

"I'm sure that was more fun for me than for him," she said. 

While in school together, Leak and Wimmer helped keep each other on their toes, and they encouraged each other to stay on top of assignments. 

“I like having this feeling like I finally did it and I can look at my mom who is feeling the same way,” Wimmer said.