Pair of parent-child duos share graduation ceremonies at Kean University

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Thursday, May 20, 2021
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UNION, New Jersey (WABC) -- A pair of parent-child duos had the rare experience of sharing their graduation ceremonies at a New Jersey college.

What is it like to graduate side-by-side with your parent or child?

Just ask Frezia and Priscilla Valenzuela or Robert and Mary Knight, parent-child duos who graduated together in Kean University's class of 2021.

"It was an amazing experience," Frezia Valenzuela said. The 52-year-old mother immigrated from Peru and earned her master's degree in curriculum/bilingual education.

"I came to this country with a bag full of dreams. Walking with my daughter is my best prize," Valenzuela said. "It is the perfect, perfect way to complete my dream."

Her daughter Priscilla, who lives with her family in Perth Amboy, received her master's degree in speech-language pathology.

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41-year-old Cesar Galarza picked Buffalo State because his daughter, 21-year-old Clarimar, was already there studying art education.

"Getting to share the spotlight with my mom was very important to me," Priscilla Valenzuela said. "It was nice because you go to your mom for advice in life, but I could also compare my struggles of grad school and lean on her too."

Meanwhile, Toms River resident Robert Knight, 63, and his 27-year-old daughter Mary, both studied at Kean Ocean.

Robert Knight is the first graduate to receive a bachelor's in psychology/forensic psychology and plans to further his career at the Ocean County Youth Services Commission.

Mary Knight also earned her bachelor's in psychology -- and even shared some classes with her father.

"I have to give her a lot of credit," Robert Knight said. "She sat right next to me."

Mary said she's proud of her dad.

"With papers, sometimes we would bounce ideas off of each other or talk about classes that maybe one of us had already to clarify information that we may have not quite gotten in class," she said.

Both families had double the cheers at their commencement ceremonies.

"Walking alongside my biggest role model is emotional," Priscilla Valenzuela said. "My parents and grandparents were there, so there was a lot of love."

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