Goshen family graduates together in May

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, May 10, 2012

Graduate times four.

That’s the equation at the Messick home in Goshen.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Messicks didn’t plan to have four graduates in the month of May 2012, but when they each plugged in the formula for personal success, four was the sum total.

Penny Messick graduated from Auburn University on Sunday with a doctorate in administration and supervision of curriculum. Her daughters, Andi Jacobs and Kristen Messick, will graduate today from Troy University. Jacobs has earned a degree in math and business and her sister studied English and interpreter training.

On May 25, Paul Messick will graduate from Goshen High School and join his mom and sisters as May graduates.

Penny Messick had remained steadfast for three years in pursuit of her dream. With the understanding, support and encouragement of her husband, Ken, and the “okay with us, Mom” attitude of her children she went back to school.

“I had always aspired to earn a PhD and I realized three years ago that I was at a point in my life where I was between kids and grandkids,” Messick said. “My children were at the ages that they needed me less, so it seemed like the perfect time to pursue my dream.”

Messick works for the Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative at Troy University so she realized that juggling work, home and school would be a challenge. She was also going to have to make an adjustment from being a die-hard Alabama fan to a lady of the Plains.

“At first my children thought I was crazy,” Messick said, laughing. “But they were supportive and it was hard at times because I was gone two or three nights a week to Auburn and had to spend several weekends each semester in Auburn. At home, I had to get off by myself and read and write and research. I could not have realized my dream without their support.”

The real reason that Messick dared to dream was her husband.

“Ken always knew that I wanted to be the best I could be and he encouraged me in that,” she said. “He allowed me to grow professionally. Ken is my biggest fan. I could not have achieved my goal if it had not been for him. He relieved me of any worries at home so that I could attend Auburn and devote the time I needed to studies.”

Messick’s “walk” on Sunday was the realization of a dream and it was exciting and satisfying. But it will not compare to the feelings that she will have when her daughters receive their degrees today and her son graduates high school later in the month.

“I am so proud of each one of them,” she said. “Mine was a personal accomplishment, but for all three of my children to accomplish their goals at the same time is really big. It’s a self-fulfilling thing.”

Kristen Messick called the experience “amazing.”

“I think it’s cool that it happened this way,” she said. “I was so proud of my mom on Sunday. It was incredible to see her reach this milestone. I know that it wasn’t easy for her. We saw how hard she worked and how much she wanted to accomplish her goal. I’m proud that Andi and I are graduating together. It will be real special. And we’re proud for Paul. It’s real exciting for all of us.”

Jacobs laughingly said that she didn’t extend her college career just so that she and her sister could graduate together.

“It took me a while to get serious about college,” she said. “My mother and Kristen just can’t get enough of school, so Kristen was serious from the start.”

Jacobs said that graduating together wasn’t a planned thing. In fact, they didn’t realize the possibility until last summer.

“But we like to do things together as a family so it was fitting that we all graduate at the same time,” she said. “That makes graduation even more special for all of us.”

“It’s cool that all of us will graduate at the same time,” Paul said. “I love being able to share this experience with my mom and my sisters. They’ve all probably worked harder than I have and I know what graduation means to me. But, to see how happy my mom was walking across the stage to finally get something she wanted was real special to me.”

Messick will continue with the job she has because she loves what she does. She doesn’t rule out teaching on the college level at some point in time. Kristen and Andi will test the job market and Paul will work with his dad’s lawn business and is considering college.

For now, the four Messicks have achieved their educational goals and they plan to celebrate the whole month long.