Kelehers Will Graduate Together

May 12, 2016 | Stacey Ortman

Keleher (W:250 H:300)DUBUQUE, Iowa – Teri Keleher will joyfully watch her daughter Paxtyn walk across the stage Saturday, May 14, at the University of Dubuque’s Commencement. Then, Teri will walk the same path.

“She’s super excited,” Paxtyn said of her mother. “It’s actually pretty cool. I will have all my friends with me and then my mom will be there. I’m proud of her. It’s a cool thing to go back to school.”

It was purely coincidence that the mother-daughter graduates from Monticello, Iowa, attended UD at the same time, let alone will graduate from the University together.

Paxtyn decided to enroll in classes after she toured the campus during Iowa Private College Week.

“This campus was just beautiful and it was close to home,” she said.

Later, Teri decided to return to school to earn a bachelor of science in health care administration. An employee at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Teri said it was important to find a program that fit her schedule and was close to work. She learned about UD’s LIFE – Cedar Rapids program that is specifically for adult learners who are at least 23 years old and have three or more years of work experience. Although Teri planned to attend another institution, she enrolled at UD.

“They’re very friendly and they know everyone’s name,” Teri said. “It just seemed to fit better.”

The mother-daughter duo did not initially know they would graduate together. Paxtyn, who took 15 dual credits as a high school student through Kirkwood Community College, learned towards the end of her sophomore year at UD that she could graduate a year early if she took a few summer courses.

“It went by really quickly,” Paxtyn said about her time at UD. “I’ve only been here for three years.”

Teri added, “She really worked hard to get done in three years.”

Teri also worked hard. She doubled up on classes while balancing a full-time job and family life.

“It became a goal to graduate together,” Teri said, adding. “I thought it’d be so neat if we could do that together.”

Paxtyn will graduate with a bachelor of business marketing. She plans to stay in the Dubuque area and work in sales. Her mother, Teri, will graduate with a bachelor of science and continue her work as a hospital liaison/supervisor at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital.