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Graduation Falls on Auspicious Day for Mother-Daughter Pair

042803graduates_dl.jpgBy Alisa Blackwood

BOONE–Kristen and Sherry Freeman have compared notes, helped each other with homework and spent hours on the phone while pursuing their bachelor of science degrees in business from Appalachian State University.

The mother and daughter duo have always had a close relationship, and though never competitive with each other, the two business majors joke about who will walk across the stage to receive her diploma first. They will, after all, be graduating together on an auspicious date: Mother’s Day (May 11).

“Kristen and I have always been close, so it’s just a real nice experience for us to do this together,” said Sherry Freeman, who will graduate with a degree in business management from Appalachian’s Walker College of Business. Kristen’s degree will be in accounting.

Sherry began her education at Appalachian in 1999 after transferring credits from her associate degree earned from Richmond Community College in Hamlet in 1975.

Between her two degrees, Freeman worked in Charlotte for Duke Power, stayed at home with her two daughters and then started her own office support business, Quality Time, which she still runs out of her family’s home in Hickory. Once her children were old enough, she decided it was time to further her education.

By the time Sherry made it to Appalachian, Kristen was already a student at the university and had moved away from her parents’ home to Boone.

At first, Sherry commuted to Boone several nights a week until her classes became available in Catawba County through the university’s Appalachian Learning Alliance distance education program. Taking classes twice a week in her hometown allowed Sherry to finish her studies while spending more time with her husband and second daughter who was still in high school.

But the distance didn’t keep Sherry and Kristen from helping each other throughout their college careers.

“It’s like having a little extra help. It’s like having a twin in school with you,” said Kristen, who is an accounting intern this semester at Cannon & Company, LLP in King.

The two never shared classroom space in Boone but did take an economics class together one summer at a community college.

“The only part I didn’t like is that she seemed to make higher grades than I did because she was more into studying than I was,” Kristen said with a laugh. “That wasn’t true of all the classes though.”

Both admitted that when their business classes became more math oriented, such as statistics, it was Kristen who rose to the top.

“I did very well in that class and she was asking me for help all the time,” Kristen said.

While mom admits she did lean on her daughter for some guidance, she said she doesn’t remember any one class in which one stood out more than the other.

“Kristen’s always been great in mathematical stuff. So when it came to statistics she probably had a little bit better grasp of it than I did,” Sherry said.

As for their futures after graduation, both Freemans plan to continue their educations at Appalachian. They each want to pursue their MBAs, though Kristen plans to concentrate on accounting while Sherry wants to earn her master’s degree and teach at the university level, which means it’s unlikely they’ll be able to swap notes in the future.

“That would have been something if we’d continued a while longer,” Sherry said. “But we were able to help each other on and off throughout the process.”

And as for whose name will be the first cheered by family members at the May 11 graduation ceremony? They’re still working that out.

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Picture Caption: Mother-daughter duo and Hickory residents Kristen, left, and Sherry Freeman graduate May 11 from Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business. Kristen Freeman will receive a degree in accounting. Her mom will earn a degree in management. (Appalachian photo by University Photographer Mike Rominger)