Mother and daughter graduate from Hodges University

CREATED Jun. 9, 2013

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 FORT MYERS, Fla. - Hundreds of students and countless proud families packed the Germain Arena in Fort Myers for Hodges University's commencement ceremony Sunday. Among those graduating were Tammy Rose and Ashley Polk, mother and daughter. 

For many Hodges University students, the journey wasn't that of the 'typical' college student. Most students are returning to school to earn a degree after taking considerable time off. Many students have families, full-time jobs, and mortgages. 

It takes a big support system to make it to the 'pomp and circumstance' of graduation day; take Ashley Polk for example. You couldn't find her mom in the stands though, her biggest fan was right behind her, literally. 

Tammy Rose is Ashley's mom. They graduated at the same time, from the same program, with the same degree. 

"It feels awesome, especially to be able to walk next to my daughter," said Tammy Rose. 

"Knowing she had my back the whole way was so great," said Ashley Polk. 

Tammy started school 20 years ago, but she says kids and other responsibilities got in the way. She said after Ashley graduated from high school in 2011, it was time to hit the books.

"I was a barber for 20 years, it worked for a single mom raising three daughters," said Tammy, "But I wanted to pursue a lifelong career." 

In December 2011, Tammy came back to school. Mother and daughter were together, pushing each other the entire way. 

"Her strengths were my weaknesses and my strengths were her weaknesses. We kinda fit together like a puzzle," said Tammy. 

The family couldn't be prouder, hoping that younger generations take a lesson from Tammy. 

"She sets a great example for Ashley and in turn for Jocelyn, our great granddaughter," said Joe Virdin, Tammy's father, "I just heard them refer to her as a future Hodge's graduate. We are looking forward to that."