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Karen Banks and Felicia Rapoza

Mother and daughter graduate from Motlow College together

by Shane Levan, Staff Writer

On the weekend of Mother's Day, Karen Banks and Felicia Rapoza enjoyed something most mothers and daughters never experience - a second chance at an education and an opportunity to graduate together.

Karen Banks and Felicia Rapoza Banks and Rapoza both received their associate degrees during Motlow College's 44th commencement ceremony, held May 10 at Nisbett Center on the Motlow Moore County campus.

For Felicia's mother Karen, education has always been important, even if it has not come easy.

"I was one of those hardheaded children that quit school and got married at the age of 16," said Banks. "I did get my GED after my second child was born."

Karen first enrolled at Motlow during her daughter's senior year of high school; Felicia graduated from Tullahoma High School in 1995. However, Karen had to set her education plans aside to take care of her family.

Like her mother, life interrupted Felicia's education as well. Now a single mother of two, Felicia decided it was time to earn a college degree. She was delighted when her mother chose to attend Motlow with her.

"To my surprise, my mother agreed to go back to school with me and finish our degrees together," said Rapoza. "We have both overcome many obstacles just to be able to go back to school again."

For Karen, going back to school and getting her degree proved that anything is possible.

"I am a living example that if you want something bad enough and are willing to work hard enough for it, you can have almost anything no matter what age you are," added Banks.

While both received a second opportunity at earning an education, the mother and daughter pair enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together.

"I love sharing experiences and spending time with my children and grandchildren, so when my daughter started classes I jumped on board," said Karen.

"I would have to say it was one of the best times of my life spent with my mother," added Felicia. "We studied together, took classes together and eventually walked the line together."

Both Karen and Felicia plan on continuing their education. Understanding the importance of family, Felicia plans on earning a bachelor's degree at MTSU and becoming a family counselor.