Tennessee State University experienced a first-time occurrence in the school’s more than 100-year-old history when Theresa Lyles, 68 and her Zuri Lyles, 22 both received bachelor degrees from the college.

Theresa, a grandmother of 15, started at TSU in 1967 but dropped out in 1970 to raise her family. A little over a year ago, she came back to school without knowing she earned enough credits back then to put her close to graduating until her academic advisers told her.  Tragedy struck and Theresa lost her middle daughter, Zuri’s mother which made her battle depression for a long period of time.

“That hit us so hard that I almost dropped out because I was struggling and my grandmother went through a depression,” Zuri said. “But we kept encouraging each other. Through it all, we started working harder and did everything we needed to get the job done.”

Theresa will be receiving a degree in Sociology while Zuri will receive a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management and a Minor in Business. She has a job offer at St. Thomas General and plans to attend graduate school.

“I always wanted to come back, but just never had the chance to do it,” The grandmother affirmed. “I am glad I did, and it’s even better now that I did it with my granddaughter. We encouraged each other. It was tough, but we had to tunnel through. I never contemplated this, who knew that when I started back then that I would be graduating at the same time as she did. Nobody but God.”

Theresa and her granddaughter, Zuri who are 40 years apart shared the college graduation stage together.


Credit: nebraska.tv

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