Fall Graduation: Mother, Daughter Excel While Pursuing MPAs

COLUMBUS, Ga. - The resemblance between Cynthia Wright and Camesha Tate has drawn attention throughout the six years the pair have been studying health science at Columbus State University.

“We’d hear it all the time,” said Camesha. “Other classmates would come up to one of us and say, ‘The two of you look so much alike. You must be related.’ After I’d say yes, the typical reply is, You’re sisters, right?” Truth is, they’re mother and daughter.

Camesha Tate, Cynthia Wright But more noteworthy, Cynthia, 44, and Camesha, 26, are completing their Master of Public Administration in Health Services degrees with 4.0 GPAs.

They are among about 500 degree recipients who will be recognized during Columbus State’s winter commencement at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the Columbus Civic Center. The speaker is state Rep. Richard H. Smith, R-Columbus.

Cynthia and Camesha, both Columbus residents by way of Birmingham, Ala., have literally completed their graduate studies side-by-side — taking the same courses, sitting next to one another in class and studying together for exams.

“My graduate program came with a built-in study partner,” said Camesha, who also earned her bachelor’s degree from CSU with honors. “I consider myself a last-minute student when it comes to studying, but my mom is so patient and thorough in her approach to studying… It’s helped me stay grounded and made me even a better student.”

Both mother and daughter are members of the same honors and professional student organizations, including Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Alpha Alpha, Eta Sigma Gamma and the Georgia Public Health Association.

Camesha further credited her mother’s influence. “She convinced me to pursue the master’s degree after I convinced her to pursue the health science degree as an undergrad.”

The complementary effect garnered the attention of professor Tara Redmond, who directs the health science programs. 'Cynthia and Camesha have been shining stars throughout their matriculation in both the undergraduate and graduate programs in health science,” she said. “ I’m extremely proud of their accomplishments as stellar students and confident they will be an asset to the health profession.”

Cynthia, a certified pharmacy technician for the past six years with Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Phenix City and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, said her CSU education, which included a summer internship at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Baltimore, has helped her identify a professional niche and specialty goal: infectious disease monitoring for the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control.

“My mom likes to work behind the scenes to ‘develop the program,’ while I prefer to ‘deliver the program’ and interact with patients,” said Camesha, currently a social worker for Magnolia Manor in Columbus.

A string of previous occupations ranging from fast food worker to a human resources supervisor for the local Division of Family and Children Services office has further motivated Cynthia, a divorced single parent with a second daughter, 20-year-old Carlese Tate, who is working full-time and plans to enter the missionary field.

Cynthia said she hopes to inspire other nontraditional students, especially single moms, to not let age or length of time away from school make them hesitant to pursue a college degree and a better career when the opportunity arises.

“I put my career aspirations on hold so I could provide my daughters with a Christian education in high school, at Georgia Cumberland Academy in Calhoun, Ga.,” she said. “I’m proud of them and excited about where my life is now headed.”

Both Cynthia and Camesha plan to take a breath before pursuing their doctorates in different areas of the health services field.

For more information on CSU’s winter commencement, go to http://graduation.colstate.edu/.