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The ultimate mother/daughter experience: earning college degrees together - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content

The ultimate mother/daughter experience: earning college degrees together

June 26, 2024

Ari and Ami Poveda dressed in graduation attire.

The military relocated the Poveda family to Columbus in 2016, but two wonderful experiences at Columbus State University are the reason they call it home.

Quality education for their daughter Arianna (Ari) was always the goal: mom Ami homeschooled Ari for more than 10 years, leading to her high school graduation at a very early age. Ari, an Eagle Scout with a black belt in Taekwondo, went on to attend Georgia Military College and earned her associate degree at age 16. She then transferred to Columbus State, studied in the Honors College, and graduated summa cum laude in May 2024 at 20 with a degree in history and a minor in art. Along the way, she was active in Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society, and received the Honors College’s Scholarly Activities in Social Sciences Award.

After Ari entered college, Ami decided it was her turn to finish her degree and also turned to Columbus State. In May, she walked the commencement stage with her daughter, one person behind—graduating magna cum laude with a degree in liberal arts.

“Columbus State is a great school with a fantastic liberal arts program,” Ami said of her studies, which included a concentration in humanities and social sciences. “It gave us both what we needed, and then some.”

Ari loved the tight, close-knit feel of the Department of History, Geography & Philosophy. The history club and convocations provided multiple ongoing activities with panels, events and movies—all built around a theme.

“The history faculty is amazing, the way they worked with Ari to guide her, address her concerns, and meet her needs,” Ami said of her daughter’s experience.”

What’s next for mother and daughter after their dual graduation? Ami plans to apply to graduate school for interdisciplinary studies, but first comes a little time off and travel with her husband.

For Ari, following a graduation trip to Disneyland Paris, London and Oxford with her parents, she’s planning a six-month break from school to enjoy her job and apply for the Disney College Program in the spring of 2025. Eventually, she sees herself attending graduate school at Oxford University in England to become an archivist. Time spent studying abroad in Oxford and living at Columbus State’s Spencer House piqued her interest in the possibilities, and she’s ready to learn more.

Watching her mom navigate college alongside her was something special for Ari.

“I’m not surprised at how well she did—she’s tough, very driven, and she’s been the largest and most positive role model in my life. I call her a ‘dream pusher, not a dream smoosher’—she showed me that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Both Ami and Ari remain grateful to Columbus State for the things the school provided beyond solid academics, and each are excited to see what the other accomplishes next.

“One of my biggest takeaways is that Columbus State taught me how to write,” Ari said. “This is such an important skill and one I will use throughout my career. I learned research methods and how to be a historian. Beyond academics, CSU taught me soft skills like learning how to network and how to meet and work with different people.”

“Everyone at Columbus State not only helped me to achieve my goals, but they also reinforced my belief that it’s never too late to go back and finish your degree,” Ami said. “Being exposed to different topics, learning new and challenging things, soaking in as much as I could—all of it was wonderful. My classes fostered curiosity and critical thinking skills and allowed me to broaden my understanding of the world and my place in it.

And, according to Ami, learning and curiosity don’t have an expiration date.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can achieve anything if you want it,” she added “My goal was to grow as a person and to show my children that dreams are achievable—even if it takes much longer than we’d hoped!”

Story contributed by Kim Drew, APR

Media contact: Michael Tullier, APR, Executive Director of Strategic Communication + Marketing, 706.507.8729,