On Mother’s Day I sat across from my mother watching her completely immersed in her new project, making cloth jewellry, I reminisced on our journey together as “mature students”.

My mother never stopped learning. She never stopped pursuing higher education. She never stopped pushing me, sometimes to the edge of darkness, to be the best version of myself. Because of her, I’m an overachiever. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s my blessing, my curse.

She used to tell me stories of her reading books to me while I was still in her womb. I remember her carrying me on her back, with my brother in her arms to drop us off at my grandmother’s house, before the sun came up. You see, very early into her marriage, she became a single parent. That’s a long and painful story. But my mother was and is an excellent nurse. And still, she decided, even while she had two small children and a job that required her to work long shifts, she was going to become one of the best midwives in the country.

Today, she is one of the best in the country; literally.

But she just never stopped going.

She did short courses while my brother and I completed the full-time-student phase of our lives. And as soon as I began to work, I began my degree. My mother emerged from her hiatus and applied to enrol in a degree programme, after being out of the school system for almost two decades.

This time, she needed all the help she could get. She needed me.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times we were both frustrated. Both trying to meet deadlines for our assignments at the same time, both overwhelmed with our careers.

I’m going to stop here and show you (with some kinda old, not too well taken, photos) where we have been and what we have accomplished together.

Here are the…

Three stages. Three phases. Three success stories.


Wendy Phillip – Mother of The Graduate Guru
Alette Liz Williams – The Graduate Guru

The first picture – my mother graduated with her BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. It was also my birthday. I told her it was poetic justice (haha) because we both earned that qualification together. I think God let her graduate on my birthday to honour both of our efforts. You couldn’t tell who was more proud that day.

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The second picture – my mother and I graduated on the same day. I got my Associates Degree in Journalism and Public Relations (with Honours). She received her post-graduate diploma; qualifying her as a Diabetes Educator.

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The third picture – I graduated with my BA in Mass Communications (Magna Cum Laude). My #1 cheerleader was by my side. Guess who that was? You got it! My mother 🙂

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What do these pictures have in common?

Struggles and victories.
Caring and understanding.
Compassion and tolerance.
Drive and resilience.

Even while I studied, my mother was motivated to return to school. The motivation was symbiotic.

Many tears were shed between us during those years.

We both haven’t stopped. Presently, we are both enrolled in programmes. I am pursuing an International Masters and she is taking another course to position her for her masters. I think she may decide to do Public Health *covers eyes*.

Final thoughts: Ironically, most of my clients are mothers going back to school. I’m always humbled to share their journey with them. I’ve cried with them and laughed with them. I’ve listened to their concerns and encouraged them through their trials. My service goes beyond providing resources and support. I am as invested in their success because the journey is always familiar. Every stage my mother and I went through together, I have been through with the mother’s I’ve helped (with a few varying situations, of course).

To the student mother… you are a superhero without a cape. Be encouraged.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Yours in Success,
The Graduate Guru

Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your story 😉


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