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Mother and daughter graduate together from CCV

MIDDLEBURY — Usually we say that the kids are “going away to college” because they’re doing just that: going away and leaving their parents behind. Not so for Caitlin McCluskey, who this past Saturday graduated from Community College of Vermont alongside her mother, Angela McCluskey.
While the two Cornwall residents have not actually attended class together during their time at CCV, Angela, 46, says the opportunity to graduate with her 20-year-old daughter is a reward in itself and a signifier of the close relationship between the two.
“The fun part about graduating with my daughter — my mini-me — is that it’s like that little cherry on top of doing all of this,” said Angela. “It’s really great because we’re pretty close.”
Surprisingly, this isn’t even the first time that mother and daughter have graduated together in the McCluskey family.
“In 1991 I graduated with my bachelor’s with my mom in criminal justice,” Angela said. “I wanted to be a police officer when I got out of high school.”
“It’s like our little mini-tradition almost,” Caitlin added.
In a June 4 graduation ceremony at Norwich University’s Shapiro Field House in Northfield, both McCluskeys received associate’s degrees — Caitlin in liberal studies and Angela in accounting. They were among more than 550 students from across the state who received degrees at the event, where the main speakers were Gov. Peter Shumlin and Mark Redmond, executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services.
CCV is Vermont’s second largest college, serving over 7,000 students each semester, with 12 locations plus online learning options.
Whereas Angela has taken her courses exclusively online, Caitlin has attended CCV classes both online and in-person at the Middlebury and Rutland locations. Yet, while their different degree programs, different methods of attending classes and Angela’s prior bachelor’s degree have prevented the two from crossing paths in CCV’s classrooms, the two still find ways to support one another academically.
“I had this complete breakdown about my final Seminar in Educational Inquiry paper and, silly me, left it until the last minute,” said Caitlin. “(Mom) was like, ‘You have to do this. Just do it.’”
“I gave her a bunch of ideas, some writing prompts,” said Angela.
It would appear that her mother’s help did the trick for Caitlin.
“She got on the President’s List with a 4.0 GPA, with a full course load of classes,” the proud mother said.
“I was so pumped,” Caitlin said.
Angela also received some welcome acknowledgment for her academic achievements at CCV. With a 3.76 GPA, Angela was accepted into Phi Theta Kappa, the official honor society recognized by the American Association of Community Colleges.
“That’s an accomplishment for me,” she said.
Both Caitlin and Angela had positive things to say about CCV. Angela appreciated the versatility of her new accounting degree.
“The knowledge that I gained from (my previous degree)? That was good. The knowledge that I gained from CCV? That will take me so much further forward than what I already have,” Angela said.
“With the accounting degree,” she continued, “I can move forward and get my bachelor’s in accounting, or my master’s in business administration with a specialization in accounting. Five more classes and I can (become a) certified public accountant.”
Caitlin, who has taken steps to attend Castleton University, most appreciated the personalized help that she got from her adviser at CCV.
“I mean, I like my adviser at Castleton, but my adviser at CCV is just amazing,” she said.
While Angela is weighing her options for where she wants to go next with her degree, Caitlin has a more definite plan. Next semester she will attend and live on campus at Castleton University, where she will major in Health Science.
“Everything that I’ve done so far just feels like a stepping stone to the next thing,” Caitlin said. “Liberal studies, health science — which I can’t really get a job in, you have to go to grad school for that — then I’ll finish with physical therapy stuff.”
It would appear then that Caitlin is closely following her mother’s advice, which is to think beyond the short-term.
“You think of short-term when you’re getting out of high school,” Angela said. “It’s just your one-to-five-year goal. My advice to both of my kids is to think long-term.”

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