- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Parents and 3 children set to receive degrees in fall

HAMPTON, Va. — Some families eat their meals together, while others share holidays. But for more than a year, the Shuman family has been united by a common goal: All five members expect to receive their degrees in October from Strayer University.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we’re all going back,” said mother Terre Shuman. “We’re a family of avid readers, so it’s pretty natural that we would be school geeks.”

She met Edward Shuman at Kent State University in Ohio and “decided that marriage was more fun” than her nursing studies, so she dropped out in 1970, the year National Guardsmen opened fire on protesting students.

“My intention was I would have the baby and then go back to school,” Mrs. Shuman said. “I didn’t do that. I had another baby.”

And then a third.

But the longtime Sentara CarePlex Hospital employee needed a bachelor’s degree in business administration to keep her promotion as a staff development educator for Sentara, so she returned to school in September 2002.

Retired from the Air Force, Mr. Shuman works as a computer support coordinator at Tidewater Tech in Newport News. In 2003, his wife encouraged him to enter the master’s program in communication technology.

April, 30, and Anna, 28, credit their mother for inspiring them to continue their education.

“I was very proud of my mother and her being her age going back to school and I thought, ‘If my mother can do it, so can I,’” said April, who left Christopher Newport University a few credits shy of a theater degree in 1997.

She’s now seeking a bachelor’s degree in international business, as is older sister Stephanie, who is 33.

April would like to earn a master’s degree, she said. But the bachelor’s likely will help her run the event-planning business she owns with Anna.

April and Stephanie have taken classes together at Strayer’s campus in Newport News, an experience that has given Stephanie insight into April’s intellect.

“Just being in class, she just shows it to me all the time,” said Stephanie, who isn’t sure what she wants to do with her degree. “I get to see her succeed and excel.”

April appreciates the professors treating her the same as her sister. That’s a big change from high school, where teachers expected her to measure up to whatever Stephanie did, she said.

The Shumans live in Hampton, with the exception of Anna, who is in Philadelphia. The distance doesn’t prevent her from reading over family term papers and answering questions.

After earning a bachelor’s in English from Pace University in New York City, Anna is working toward a master’s in business administration. Her ultimate goal: earn a doctorate and become a professor.

Mrs. Shuman’s classes are similar to Anna’s, and the two sometimes bounce ideas off each other.

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