10/01/2013 05:53 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2013

Mother And Son Earn PhDs Together Despite Incredible Odds


Every parent wants to attend their child's graduation, but what if that proud moment was coupled with the parent getting a diploma of her own?

That's just what happened when a Georgia mother and son, Dr. Vickie McBride and Dr. Maurice McBride, earned their PhDs on the very same day, WRDW Augusta reports. The day was an especially proud one for Vickie McBride, who had her son when she was just 13-years-old.

"I never thought I would get the chance to see my mother walk across the stage and then she turned around and saw me walk across the stage," Maurice McBride told the station.

As a young mother, Vickie said she was determined to continue her education despite the criticism she received.

"It was shunned upon and of course the older people in the community were whispering," she said. "I had to figure out how to work and how to parent and how to manage school all at the same time."

Maurice also faced seemingly insurmountable odds, dropping out of high school at 16-years-old and ending up in a juvenile probation facility.

"[I] started hanging out with some of the wrong people and got into some trouble," he said.

Nevertheless, both mother and son worked toward achieving their goals. Vickie finished high school and went on to college, and Maurice eventually got his GED and took college courses online. He later called his mother to ask if she would be interested in getting a PhD with him.

In August, they both received their degrees from Capella University. Vickie graduated with her PhD in K-12 Education and Maurice in Organizational Management.

"Never in a thousand, million, trillion years [did I expect to get my PhD]. The thought of becoming a doctor anyone was far fetched," Maurice said.

With 72 percent of African American children being raised in single parent households, and 68 percent of black women who gave birth in the past year unmarried, along with the staggering number of black boys in the juvenile justice system, the beginning of Vickie and Maurice's story is one that is all too popular in the African-American community.

However, their story of achievement is rare, and Vickie encouraged families in similar situations to work relentlessly toward their goals against all odds.

"I didn't let my situation define who I was. I defined my situation. I looked at my situation and I told situation this is where we are going and this is what we are doing," she said.

"For those who have gone through [tough situations]. You can be successful. You can be anything. You can do anything once you make up your mind that that is what you want to do. Set a goal and go for it."

Watch the McBride's inspiring story here.

Subscribe to the Black Voices email.
Stay plugged in with the stories on black life and culture.