FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina -- Marcia Thomas has never worn a cap and gown before. The 49-year-old was a teen mom, who was forced to forego high school graduation.
"I never went to my high school graduation and did all those things," said Thomas. "So many times as a parent, you put yourself on the back burner. You know your kids are important. Going back to school has always been on my bucket list. I just thought that maybe it would have been years from now."
Educating her children was always a priority. She returned to school many years later and will be earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from Fayetteville State University.
But there's one twist.
"We're graduating together! I think I'm more excited this time," said Amanda Ross, Marcia's oldest daughter.
Ross is an alum of Fayetteville State University, who is graduating with her master's degree in social work.
"We lined it up so that if she took classes both summer sessions, she'd graduate the same time as I was. We lined it up and started in the fall of 2019," said Ross.
Data from the National Center for Education show African American women are more likely to receive their bachelor's degree than any other race. Yet, they earn just 63 cents to every dollar earned by white men.
The mother-daughter duo admit this pay disparity is a bit discouraging, but they've chosen confidence when negotiating salaries.
"Definitely don't sell yourself short," said Ross.
Their graduation is set for Saturday, May 8, on Mother's Day weekend.