Clark Atlanta University doctoral student Dr. Lorri Saddler and her bachelor daughter Jaelyn Rice graduated together at the university's 2020-21 dual commencement ceremony on May 15.
Dr. Saddler earned her doctoral degree in education and had the honor of watching her daughter Jaelyn Rice, a 2020 cum laude graduate, received her bachelor's degree in sociology.
It was the first time in the university's history that two commencement ceremonies were held on the same day. The CAU Class of 2020 held its commencement ceremony on the same day as the Class of 2021, as COVID-19 concerns delayed the last year's ceremony.
Dr. Saddler, who also works as the university's Vice President of Undergraduate Admissions and in the university president's cabinet, played several roles in the commencement ceremony. She served as an administrator in the morning ceremony when her daughter graduated. Later on, she walked across the stage as a student herself during the afternoon ceremony.
"We couldn't have planned an occasion as brilliant as Commencement 2020," said Dr. Saddler. "I was a mom at 8 a.m. and a student and cabinet member at 3 p.m. To see [my daughter] Jaelyn in the same booklet as the president's cabinet was an unbelievable, humbling, and amazing experience."
For Jaelyn, celebrating her academic accomplishments with her mother allowed her to think about her mother's achievements as a parent and as a student. The daughter herself was an engaged student in the academic world. She previously served as a football team manager, student assistant, and student ambassador of the university.
"For her to be there and to know my mom is in the same space with me, as a role model -- there is nothing better," said Rice. "We pressed through and overcame obstacles to get there on the same day -- an example of our resilience and our ability to move forward."
After graduation, Dr. Saddler will utilize her doctorate to further her career in higher education, while Jaelyn aims to attend graduate school and go after a career in athletic training.