Hiram College

Andrea Zamecnik-Turner, left, and her mother, Lisa Zamecnik, right, both graduated from the Weekend College in Hiram’s Class of 2011

Graduation is a special time for any family, and Lisa Zamecnik and her daughter Andrea Zamecnik-Turner share a special bond that made the day even more memorable.

Both are members of Hiram’s Class of 2011.

They didn’t intend to graduate the same day when their journeys began, for Andrea in 1999 and Lisa in 2005. But as they stood next to each other in line on Charles A. Henry Field on May 14, both of their dreams of earning their bachelor degree from Hiram College came true.

Education was always important to the family growing up, but until now, circumstances never allowed for Andrea, 32, and Lisa, 54, to get their bachelor degrees.

Growing up in Mantua, both always held Hiram College to a high esteem.

“It’s always been the cream of the crop in this area,” Andrea said. “… It was a dream for me since I was in middle school.”

She enrolled in the Weekend College 12 years ago while working for an employer that offered tuition reimbursement. Other obligations – her job and raising three children – required her to go to school part time and take time off at certain periods. Her mother, Lisa, enrolled six years later at Andrea’s suggestion.

They loosely kept track of where each other stood in finishing their course work, and last summer, realized that if Andrea doubled up her course load for the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 semesters, they could share this special milestone.

“It was a recurring theme throughout my life,” Andrea said. “I always knew I’d get my bachelor’s degree sooner or later, but to get it with my mom was so special.”

The two never had classes together, but their education at Hiram was a frequent conversation topic. Andrea, a business management major, and Lisa, an environmental studies major, both light-heartedly insisted that their own classes were harder.

And because of Hiram’s liberal arts curriculum, they both found themselves taking courses in the other’s major at one point in their education. That settled the friendly disagreements to an extent – though Lisa said, “I think I won.”

Beyond giving them the chance to learn more about what the other was studying, both Andrea and Lisa saw Hiram’s liberal arts curriculum as a way to fully indulge in their studies.

Lisa, breaking the mold of the typical Weekend College schedule, took two study abroad trips, first to Ireland in 2008, and then to England in 2010.

“I call it hands-on learning,” she said, “touching the stones, seeing the ruins, being among the people, learning about their culture.”

Following another trip to England and a knee replacement surgery, Lisa said she hopes to get a job with the Cuyahoga River Watershed.

“I’m looking forward to using my degree to its full potential,” she said.

And Andrea, who took several classes about social issues, said she plans to continue to learn about and be involved in those areas, as she continues her job as a recruiter at Advancement, LLC in Solon. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree at Hiram in the near future.

In the meantime, she said she’ll miss college, but feels culturally enriched from her education.

“I love the education I got; I feel well rounded, with the humanities and arts. I couldn’t have asked for better.”