INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Saturday's commencement ceremony at the University of Indianapolis will hold a special meaning to a New Palestine family.
Laura Walden and her son, Tyler Walden, will take part in the ceremony knowing they're both graduating from college.
Tyler, who is graduating in business administration, had wrapped up his freshman year of school when his mother decided she wanted to pursue her degree.
“I thought, what a cool experience," Laura said. "Something he could look on later in life, when I’m no longer here anymore, he can see the example I’ve tried to set for him that no it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can always go back and accomplish your goals and your dreams at any age."
Laura is in the university's accelerated program. She even took on a heavier workload at times to get done in three years.
Her courses are five weeks at night, and she still has six more to go through to the summer before receiving her degree in organizational leadership come August.
Laura works full-time at the university in the communications and marketing department.
When she realized she could get finished early, and at the same time as her son, she wanted to make sure he was okay with it. Tyler was going to be the first member in the immediate family to graduate with a four-year college degree.
“I don’t want to ruin his day or take any of the excitement away from him," Laura said.
Tyler was more than supportive.
"I’m very happy for her," said Tyler. "She came to me when she first asked about it, asking how I felt and I was all for it. Do your thing mom, let’s do it together.”
It's been quite the journey. Laura remembered first asking her son for help - she hadn't written essays in nearly 20 years and needed to know what writing style to use. Mostly, the two have made things a competition.
"I tease him, asking, 'Tyler, what’s your GPA? and this is what mine is," Laura said.
Laura and Tyler are two of 1,084 undergraduates walking in tomorrow's commencement ceremony at Key Stadium. It begins at 11 a.m.
Both plan to attend. It's something Laura said she hasn't gotten to ever take part in.
“When I was in high school, I was a track runner," Laura said. "I missed walking in my own graduation ceremony."
It might not be the last time Laura gets to take part in a graduation with a son. She's considering pursuing her master's degree, but isn't sure when she'd start.
If the timing works, she could graduate with her youngest son, Brady, who just completed his freshman year at the university.