FREMONT, Ohio — Being able to see your child graduate is an awesome milestone for a parent to witness.
But being able to graduate WITH them? That is something special.
Fremont mother Melanie DeLaHamaide and son Daniel Gerwin II got to do just that on May 10 when they both received their degrees from Terra State Community College.
"I'm proud of her for graduating," Daniel said. "I know she's been looking forward to this and she's always looking to grow in something. So to see her be able to graduate and for us to be able to graduate together - that's amazing."
Melanie graduated from Fremont Ross High School and enrolled in what used to be Providence College in Sandusky.
After five months, she made the decision to withdraw from school to focus on her family and to start working.
Because Melanie had such an interest in learning and because there was no more room for her to grow at her previous job, Melanie decided to go back to school to get her degree.
Melanie says she has always enjoyed school and learning, and she chose Terra State to further her education because it is local and affordable.
"I'm a single mom. I had to keep working and I needed my support system, my family who lives in the area, to do it," said Melanie.
Melanie is now the billing specialist at Mosser Construction.
"Just a few months ago, the job I'm at now just kind of fell into my lap," she said. "Mosser is a company I feel like I can grow in and I'm a lot happier there. Going to school has helped me build my confidence, which I really needed."
Her son Daniel is set to graduate from Fremont Ross in June and was taking college classes at Terra State at the same time.
He said he thought it was pretty cool to have his mom taking classes at the same time he was, even taking the same online classes to enable them to sometimes study together.
"This is truly a blessing to be able to do this with my mom," said Daniel. "It's really exciting that she was able to get that second chance, for a mom especially, to go back to school and follow her dreams."
This fall, Daniel will be transferring his credits and attending Bowling Green State University to study nursing.
And just like he is proud of his mom, she is also proud of him.
"I'm so very proud of Daniel, and although I'm the parent, I've learned more from him and his siblings than I could ever teach them," Melanie said.
Melanie says it was important for her to show her kids they can do and be anything they want, no matter where you're at in life.
"Life took turns that I wasn't planning and I wanted to prove to my kids that you can do anything you put your mind to," said Melanie.
Both Melanie and Daniel are busy preparing for their futures: Melanie will be helping Daniel move into BGSU, getting her ninth-grade son prepared for Terra State's CCP program and taking care of the rest of her kids, while Daniel is volunteering at church and working at the YMCA.
Melanie's advice to anyone going throughout life is this: "Never give up on your dreams. No matter the obstacles or sacrifices, with a little self-confidence and when you have a support system, no matter how big or small, goals can be met!"