A grandmother and granddaughter will walk across the college graduation stage together.
On Saturday, Theresa Lyles, 68, and her granddaughter Zuri Lyles, 22, will get their Tennessee State University diplomas.
Theresa began attending TSU in 1967, but left after a few years to raise her family.
She now has 15 grandchildren.
Theresa will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
“I never contemplated this,” Theresa said. “Who new that when I started back then that I would be graduating at the same time as she did. Nobody but God.”
Theresa returned to TSU just over a year ago, but tragedy struck when Theresa’s middle daughter, Zuri, died.
“That hit us so hard that I almost dropped out because I was struggling and my grandmother went through a depression,” Zuri said. “But we kept encouraging each other. Through it all, we started working harder and did everything we needed to get the job done.”
Zuri will earn a bachelor’s degree in health information management with a business minor.
She has a job offer from St. Thomas General and hopes to continue her education after that.
“I always wanted to come back, but just never had the chance to do it,” Theresa said. “I am glad I did, and it’s even better that I am doing it with my granddaughter. We encouraged each other. It was tough, but we had to tunnel through.”
According to TSU, this pair may be the first grandmother and granddaughter to graduate at the same time in the school’s more than 100-year history.