Texas A&M: Family Graduates Together At Texas A&M December Commencements

When Jess Brown graduated from Texas A&M University this month with a bachelor’s in sociology, her parents David and Jennifer Brown not only celebrated their daughter’s accomplishment, but their own as well, having earned their degrees, walking the stage at commencement together.

“How many people get to say, ‘I graduated, not just with my wife, but my kid?” asked Brown, a systems administrator for Texas A&M Utilities & Energy Services IT who earned his bachelor’s degree in technology management on Friday. “We do a lot of things together, but this is monumental in my mind. I’m just so proud of everyone – both of them and myself.”

David, an Oklahoma native, and his wife Jennifer, who works as a systems administrator for College Station ISD, are both first-generation college graduates.

“College was never really on the table for me,” David said, noting his parents didn’t have the experience to advise him on higher education and his high school counselor wasn’t very encouraging. So instead he joined the Navy, serving six years as a data systems technician, and met Jennifer during his enlistment in San Diego, her hometown.

Just like her husband, Jennifer earned her bachelor’s in technology management on Friday. For her, it was actually a return to Texas A&M after a few decades away. Her father was in the U.S. Air Force, and it was while attending high school in Austin that she learned about Texas A&M and its military-friendly atmosphere, which she said was appealing.

“A&M was the only college I applied to. I wanted to be an Aggie,” Jennifer said, noting she was accepted and began in the fall of 1988. “It was the greatest thing in the world.”

Jennifer admits her study skills were less than ideal and she was working to put herself through college, first majoring in political science, then changing to management information systems.

“It was really hard,” she said. “I’d been put on academic probation and I was behind on credits. So, around the time it would’ve been my junior year, I decided to take some time off and come back and finish later.”

She moved to live with family in San Diego and married David in May 1993.

“I told David about this dream I had about coming back to A&M and finishing my degree,” Jennifer said. “And he told me, ‘I’m going to get you back there to finish.’ It took a long time, we moved around a bit, but we finally landed here in College Station.”

One of their stops before coming to Aggieland was Florida, where Jess had been born in 1997. The family moved to College Station in January 2003 and David began working at Texas A&M.

Jess said growing up in College Station made her want to be an Aggie.

“Being raised in this culture – the traditions, football, all of that – I wanted to be part of the Aggie family,” said Jess, who majored in sociology with a psychology minor.

She said attending college at the same time as her parents was motivating.

“I lived at home and even though we weren’t in the same courses, we were in the same headspace,” she said. “I’d be at my desk doing homework and my parents would be doing theirs. It really kept me motivated because we had this goal of graduating together.”

And they did so within a 24-hour period.

“I was in the College of Liberal Arts and they were in the College of Education, so they were able to walk together, and then I graduated the next day,” Jess said.

All three agreed that they kept each other focused and on track, and each are thrilled they were able to achieve their education goals as a family.

Jess said she plans to return to Texas A&M to get a graduate degree in a science-related field so she can apply to medical school and become a psychiatrist. She said she’s grateful to her parents for showing her that with enough hard work and dedication, dreams can become reality.

“It’s great having that support system behind me, that no matter what happens, my parents will always be there for me,” she said. “I feel the same way about the Aggie family – we’re always here for each other, no matter what.”