Like daughter, like mother: Duo set to graduate together

By Ali O’Connor

Tonya and Jackie Jones have a special Mother’s Day planned on Sunday, May 8: the mother and daughter will each receive their bachelor’s degree at UK’s graduation.

After sharing the same major, textbooks and notes, Tonya Jones and her daughter Jackie Jones will also share an exciting moment Sunday when they graduate together.

The mother and daughter have pursued their education at different speeds, but were able to cross paths along the way.

“Hers was a logical progression. Mine, not so much,” Tonya Jones said. Tonya Jones took a year off after high school before starting her education again, which included classes at community colleges in Arizona and Texas.

Jackie Jones graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, and attended Bluegrass Community and Technical College first before making the move to UK.

Going back to school for Tonya Jones was taking care of unfinished business.

“It became more of a personal thing to finish, but I feel it will open doors for me and give me opportunities that I don’t feel like I would have had if I hadn’t finish(ed),” Tonya Jones said.

The pair are both history majors and took four classes together during their time at UK.

“It really increased the amount of knowledge you can gain because you can study with each other,” Jackie Jones said. “One of us could say, ‘hey I have a question about this,’ and most likely the other one can answer.”

Tonya Jones relied on her daughter for help when she needed to miss class in order to address issues that pertained to everyday life.

“Jackie has been there to take notes and help me out. I’m sure she has been a bigger help to me than I have to her,” she said.

However, Jackie Jones said she disagreed.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Jackie Jones said. “If one of us isn’t there, the other one is. Together we have never missed a class.”

The two said their history professor, Kathi Kern, has been delighted to have the two of them in class with her.

“This whole thing is just amazing to (Kern). She has even brought it up in class,” Tonya Jones said. “It’s the first time she has ever had a mother and daughter in class.”

Taking classes together means sharing textbooks and a competition to get the better grade.

“Sharing textbooks is great, you only have to buy one set,” Tonya Jones said.

They said a competition in their history class sparked a healthy rivalry between the two.

“We had a reactionary paper in Dr. (Tracy) Campbell’s class, and I made a better grade and she was mad for a day,” Tonya Jones said. “But we both made an A in the class, so that worked out OK.”

Despite the competition, the two said they remained supportive.

“I’m very proud of her, as busy as she has been the last two years,” Jackie Jones said.

Family support has been a key element to their success.

“My husband, and her father, he’s incredible,” Tonya Jones said. “He has put up with a lot the last two years.”

Jackie Jones also said family support has been important.

“The fact that she and my dad have pushed me to continue my education and go on to get my master’s degree, I don’t know if I could have done it without their support,” Jackie Jones.

The two have family visiting from out of town who will watch them graduate together and celebrate their academic achievements.

“Jackie and I are by no means self-centered, but Saturday and Sunday are all about us,” Tonya Jones said.

Many people ask Jackie Jones how she likes going to school with her mother.

She smiled and said, “She’s my best friend. I share everything with my mom.”