Graduating with Her BFF/Mom

“I’ve been offered so many opportunities through WilmU. I feel much more prepared for my career than many of my peers who are going for the same degree.” – Erin Furman

Best friends graduating together is always special. But it’s even more poignant when those best friends happen to be mother and daughter. That’s the case with Michelle and Erin Furman, who wore the green cap and gown at Wilmington University’s spring commencement in May.

Prior to enrolling at WilmU in 2015, both had earned associate degrees from Delaware Technical Community College — mother Michelle in Human Services and daughter Erin in Elementary Education. After getting her Del-Tech degree, Erin says, “I knew I wanted to transfer as a junior to Wilmington University to get my bachelor’s degree and certification to teach.”

Michelle, meanwhile, was thinking about going back to school. Erin gave her a gentle nudge. “I was able to convince her to apply for the same semester I did.”  So, it came to pass: Michelle enrolled in Behavioral Sciences and Erin in Elementary Education K-6.

“I had a goal set to graduate in May 2017, and my mom just paced herself to do what she could,” says Erin. “It became evident about a year ago that if she scheduled her classes correctly, we could graduate together. She’s my best friend and I wanted nothing more than to graduate at the same time as her, so I pushed her to keep up with her classes so we could stay on track together.”

Like many WilmU students, both held full-time jobs. Erin worked at McDonald’s and then at a day-care center before qualifying for the University’s year-long residency program, when she began teaching at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Middletown. Michelle holds two positions at an alternative high school in the Middletown area, where she is a counselor and aids in transitioning students back to their home schools.

Both mother and daughter feel well qualified for a career in education, thanks to WilmU.

“I’ve been offered so many opportunities through WilmU,” says Erin. “I feel much more prepared for my career than many of my peers who are going for the same degree.”

Michelle, who took many of her classes online because of her work schedule, says she had “great instructors.”

“These classes require a lot of work,” she says, “but the instructors are usually readily available to assist us when we need extra help. They made the classes more enjoyable.”

The ultimate moment for both, of course, was the commencement ceremony in May. Interviewed for this story some weeks prior to that event, Erin ticked off the family members scheduled to attend: “My dad, my sister and brother, my mom’s parents, her sister, my dad’s mother and his two brothers mother.

“I’m sure it’s going to be emotional.” WU­