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Mother, daughter graduate together at SJR State College

For Clay Today
Posted 5/9/24

ORANGE PARK – When 43-year-old Shannon Jacobsen applied to St. Johns River State College to earn her Associate in Arts degree, she was slightly apprehensive. She was returning to school 20 …

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Mother, daughter graduate together at SJR State College


Posted

ORANGE PARK – When 43-year-old Shannon Jacobsen applied to St. Johns River State College to earn her Associate in Arts degree, she was slightly apprehensive.

She was returning to school 20 years later with an autoimmune disease that would undoubtedly test her limits. But despite her disability, Shannon felt that her time had been wasted, and she believed that she had more to offer.

“I learned that no matter your age, no matter your limitations, you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you are willing to work for it,” Shannon said.

Attending SJR State with her daughter, Erin, would be an encouraging experience. They bonded over finding the best professors and classes to take, mastering Google Docs, and an occasional lunch together in the Viking Center.

When Shannon first told Erin they would be walking together at graduation at the Orange Park campus, she said she couldn’t help but feel worried her daughter might be embarrassed.

“I also didn’t want to stifle her big moment, so I offered to delay my graduation until the next ceremony, but she reassured me that it was not a problem and that she would be honored to share this special milestone with me,” Shannon said. “Her father and I are incredibly proud of our daughter and all the hard work she has put in over the years. She is a true overachiever and has consistently given her best effort in everything she does. We couldn’t be more delighted with her accomplishments and the person she has become.”

Erin said it was a privilege to graduate with her mom.

“It’s really cool and exciting to share this moment with my mom,” she said. “It’s not an experience that happens very often, and sharing a huge moment in both of our lives is truly special. I’m very proud of my mom. She’s never had it easy, and watching her juggle a household and push through her disabilities while doing amazing in her classes is so inspiring to see … and she killed it.”

Shannon finished with a 3.9 GPA.

Shannon plans to continue her education at SJR State to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

“I have always been interested in psychiatry due to watching my mother struggle with the effects of her bipolar disorder,” Shannon said. “I want to help children who are struggling with mental health and give them hope that things can and will get better with the right kind of help.” Erin will continue her education at the University of Florida this fall to study criminology.

Also, after SJR State dual enrollment student Adyn Plumlee, 18, participated in an EMT ride-along, he said he fell in love with the fast-paced, ever-changing environment of helping people every day – so much so, that he enrolled in SJR State’s EMT program, in addition to working on his Associate in Arts degree and high school diploma.

“As a Christian, I was also looking for a job where I could help people, and this job fits perfectly,” Plumlee said.

Plumlee is among the 150 dual enrollment and early college program graduates participating in the spring commencement on May 3. In total, 350 of the College’s 570 graduates participated in the ceremony held on the Orange Park Campus.