On Saturday, December 15, TU graduates walked across the stage to claim their coveted and well-earned degrees. What made this graduation ceremony even more special is that two of the graduates are mother and son. Kay and Jared Strain both graduated with their master’s degrees Saturday afternoon; Kay with a master’s in educational studies and Jared with a master’s in accountancy. Kay and Jared opened up about their experience at TU and what it was like attending college together.
How has your overall time at TU been?
Kay Strain: Good! I work at the University School on campus and earned my degree while working full-time; and for two of the three years, had a part-time job as a laser technician. I enjoyed the small class sizes and the great discussion between classmates. I believe the things I learned in my courses at TU have made me a better teacher.
Jared Strain: My time at TU has been a great experience. I learned about accounting in greater depth. I also gained new perspectives on cybersecurity, a field of which I have great interest. I discovered I really enjoy analytics, and I’ve been contemplating experimenting with it in my free time. I didn’t really get out much during my time at TU as I dedicated most of my free time to studies, but I did enjoy the events I attended. The students and staff were very friendly and welcoming.
What’s your experience been like attending college together?
Kay Strain: My older son was also pursuing his degree in geology at TU. He finished last December. That meant during finals weeks; we would all be working on papers and studying for tests together. My sons were my editing team. It was interesting to understand what Jared was going through with group projects and papers in graduate school. With classes so small, it was essential to be prepared. This was tough for both of us, but it meant we learned a lot!
Jared Strain: It’s been an awesome experience. Having someone with me at the university who understood what I was going through and was always close by, was a blessing. Knowing I had someone to go to if I needed to talk about absolutely anything, especially in one of the more stressful times of my life, was nice.
What’s your favorite TU memory?
Kay Strain: Jared got his graduate degree in accounting in one and a half years; so I truly didn’t see him much on campus. However, as he finished up his undergraduate degree, the three of us worked on papers and labs one Saturday in the geology lab. We were all working, and I remember the light coming in through all the windows at Keplinger and feeling so grateful that we could all be there together working on our projects. What a blessing that we could attend TU! I taught at Claremore High School for four years and have several wonderful former students at TU. A few of them still assist me with Academic Bowl competitions at my current job.
Jared Strain: Probably the times when I helped her with academic bowl work. Helping her kids reminded me of competing on her teams from fifth grade through high school. I also enjoyed hearing about her research on how technology affects children’s brains.
The Strain’s story is captivating and unique. Not many individuals get the opportunity to attend college alongside a loved one, especially not a parent and child. Their passion for TU and admiration for one another is remarkable.