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Mother and daughter set to graduate together from USF this weekend

By Mary O’Connell

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    TAMPA, Florida (WFTS) — Students at the University of South Florida will cross the stage and receive their diplomas during fall commencement on Friday and Saturday, but for one family, they have two reasons to celebrate.

Life can take us in many different directions. That’s true, too, for Sarah Starr.

“When I finished school in England, I didn’t really have the confidence to go to university, but after a few years of life, took over,” said Sarah.

Sarah got married and had children, but one thing was always on her mind.

“I realized I really should have gone to university, but then it became more difficult. It was something that I kept thinking about for year after year after year, and even after when we moved here to Florida,” said Sarah. “Then, I realized that the only way to stop thinking about that was to just do it.”

Sarah said she started taking classes at HCC and then transferred to USF.

“Getting used to the whole routine was quite hard in the beginning, but it made me more determined to actually do it and to carry on,” said Sarah.

Still, she found comfort on campus in someone very close, her daughter, Jessica.

“We’ll grab lunch and stuff, and we’ll just talk about how our day’s been and talk about with our classes what we learned,” said Jessica.

Jessica went to a different university straight out of high school but said she didn’t feel ready at the time.

“After a semester, I left,” said Jessica. “After a few years of just working, kind of like fast food restaurants and hostessing, serving, stuff like that, I was like I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”

Later, she also found herself at USF studying civil engineering.

Now, the mother-daughter duo are set to experience a major milestone this weekend: graduating at the same time.

“I feel so proud of myself,” said Sarah.

The two are looking forward to their futures, but for now, they’re happy to be side by side, stepping into a new stage of life.

“To be able to also have my mom there with me, I think, is exciting because I get to go in the back and be like okay, what are we doing and like have somebody there to support you,” said Jessica.

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