Mother and daughter graduate together

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“Sorry, Charlotte just had her nap and is full of energy,” Monique Hawkins-White says of her bouncing, gurgling 11-month-old daughter. Monique expertly juggles the baby, a large diaper bag, and miscellaneous other child-rearing paraphernalia. “Here, let me take her,” says Monique’s mother Audrey, sitting on the other side of the table.

Audrey White and Monique Hawkins-WhiteThe two of them obviously have developed an amazing rapport with Charlotte, and they’ve had plenty of opportunity recently to share childcare duties, as both of them have been studying at UW Tacoma, and are both graduating in June of 2013.

Audrey started her college education with two years at California State University – Dominguez Hills. That was interrupted when she got pregnant with Monique. One thing led to another – “life happened,” as she puts it—and she ended up in Tacoma, the wife of an ordained minister, and a minister herself, at Tacoma’s Church of the Living God.

Caring for her ailing mother, who suffered from dementia, and seeing the struggles of the parishioners in her own church community, she began to understand that she was called to a life devoted to social service. Her education at UW Tacoma gives her the expert knowledge she needs to navigate government and non-profit agencies.

Monique, the daughter, started her undergraduate life at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. Similar to her mother, “life happened,” and she, too, ended up in western Washington. Monique says her parents always emphasized the value of education. From childhood, she knew that going to college was something she could and wanted to do. Her grandparents (Audrey’s parents), both of whom had college educations, had created the same environment for Audrey.

And now they both have clear visions of what they want to be doing in the future.

Ten years from now— “if I live that long,“ she says with a laugh—Audrey sees herself running an organization that provides transitional housing services, and being an advocate for individuals and families dealing with dementia. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in social work.

Monique looks out even further. Ten years from now she sees herself owning a chain of nail salons, but that’s really just the preparation for her 30-year plan: elected office. In the totality of her vision, the nail salons are the means to building a base in the community and developing the relationships necessary to win the hearts and minds of voters.

Audrey and Monique, mother and daughter, will march—hopefully together—at the UW Tacoma commencement in June 2013.

June 7, 2013
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, Associate Director of Communications,, 253-692-4536