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A teenage mother and her son go on to get PhDs—at the same time

State Farm

Imagine you’ve just earned your doctoral degree, and you’ve been in school for the majority of your life. As you walk across the stage to receive your diploma you spy your mom who had you when she was 13. She isn’t in the audience recording your proud moment; she is instead standing besides you beaming with joy because she, too, is now a doctor.

This is the incredible story of Maurice and Vickie, a mother and son duo who received their doctoral degrees in organizational management and K-12 education from Capella University. Their journey is one of tenacity, grit and tremendous love.

Being a young mother did not stop her:

Vickie had Maurice when she was 13. Being a young mother and living in a small, southern town pitted the odds of continuing on with her education against her.  This didn’t stop Vickie. Vickie’s mother supported her during this time. She raised Maurice while Vickie attended school. Vickie kept going. She went on to receive a college and a master’s degree while raising Maurice and three other children.

A rocky start doesn’t mean a terrible ending:

Maurice, like his mom, hit a roadblock while pursuing his education. He dropped out of school at 16 and did a stint in a juvenile probation facility. He says that through the support of his family, his community and his faith, he was able to go back to school, receive his GED and then take online courses to get his college degree.

All this while he had a music career--Maurice signed a deal with Capital Records.

But music could not complete Maurice like continuing his education could. Maurice, like Vickie, went on to receive his graduate degree and then began teaching as a professor.

A pact for higher education:

The let’s go out and get our doctoral degrees chapter of Vickie’s and Maurice’s story started with a simple mother-son phone call.  Maurice had a question for his mom:

Hey, I think I’m gonna get my PhD. You wanna do this with me?” –Maurice Mcbride

Vickie at first hesitated, saying she was done with school, but the education bug bit her once again and they began the long journey towards becoming doctors.

Now, Maurice and Vickie can proudly display their degrees; symbols of not only the education they received but also what they overcame in the process.

A statistical anomaly: 

Vickie’s story is an anomaly. To tell the truth, it is absolutely amazing. In the United States, 70% of teenagers who drop out of highschool do so because of teen pregnancy, according to the National Institute of Health.  Also, there is a higher probability of a teenage girl becoming pregnant if she is a minority and from an urban or rural community.  The probability of Vickie achieving the success she did was even lower 25 to 30 years ago, when she became pregnant. It is only recently that schools with high teen pregnancy rates have school health care centers that can offer prenatal care.

Maurice is urging his mom to recount her journey in an autobiography, and why not?  Like Maurice and Vickie there are countless people in the world who want to achieve the highest honors in education despite their circumstances. Obstacles such as poverty, discrimination and child marriage block many from achieving an education. 

To the girls taken from school and forced to marry, to the children driven out of their schools due to conflict, there are many causes that lead to students dropping out. The McBride’s story is about rising above the statistical odds, but they were able to do so because of the support they had from their family and their community.