Like Mother, Like Daughter
Commencement is a monumental moment for all parents as they watch their children cross the stage to accept their degrees. Perhaps the only thing that can top this experience is crossing that same stage with your son or daughter. In May, Julie Waltman did just that when she graduated with her daughter, Clayre.
Julie, senior administrative assistant to the provost, received an associate’s degree and Clayre received a bachelor’s degree before more than 4,500 graduating seniors, parents and guests attending Susquehanna’s 151st Commencement ceremony. They were among 426 students who received bachelor and associate degrees on May 10.
“When Mom announced that she was graduating with me, I burst with excitement. I was thrilled and every other variation of that word,” Clayre says. “She’s worked so hard to reach this goal, and I couldn’t have been more proud to walk the same stage at Commencement.”
It was an experience that may not have occurred had Julie not encouraged Clayre to enter college, despite her daughter’s uncertainty about a major. “My senior year of high school, I was still very unsure whether or not I even wanted to go [to college],” Clayre says. “I wavered constantly on the idea, and Mom was a huge proponent in pushing me in the right direction.”
Julie finally convinced Clayre that her best access to the larger world was through higher education. It was a lesson Julie learned later in life, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way. “I can’t say that I would do anything differently if I had to do it over again,” Julie says. “Being an alumna in this class, at my age, makes me sort of a minority. But on the other hand, I have a great number of adopted SU students who know they have a place to stay when they return to Susquehanna for future events.”
The close ties she developed with Clayre’s classmates made Commencement a bittersweet moment for Julie. While she and Clayre enjoyed several experiences together as students—from attending Shakespeare-a-thons to taking a study trip to Italy—the best times for Julie were the study breaks she held for Clayre and her classmates before finals. “It was a great time to watch them change and grow from first-year students to seniors and to have new members join the group each year. I will miss that this fall,” she says.
Julie’s melancholy is sure to pass as she begins her next life adventure—pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Susquehanna while continuing to encourage her daughter’s further education and, more likely than not, taking more SU students under her wing.
Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Victoria Kidd and Billie Tadros '10.