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Among the nearly 5,000 University of Washington graduates this spring are a mother and daughter four decades apart.

Bonnie Swanson, 61, and her daughter Mariah Louie, 21, are earned bachelors degrees.

I didn t see this day coming, said Bonnie Swanson.

Despite being close to earning her degree, Swanson dropped out of college in the mid 1980 s to support three kids and family. Her partner was in intensive care waiting for a donor heart that never came.

I always had this empty feeling inside that I wasn t complete, said Swanson.

She got this crazy idea and she went with it, said Mariah Louie, Swanson s daughter.

I thought to myself I m so close, I m close to my diploma and my daughter is graduating so I might as well do it, said Swanson.

Swanson had 15 credits left, but at 61 that came with some challenges.

I think the memory changes from 21 to 61 a little bit, she said.

She kept telling me her brain doesn t work, said Mariah.

Swanson caught the attention of her younger classmates, including at a study group once.

She said are you just here for fun? And I went what did you say? Are you kidding me? Who would do this for fun, it was excruciatingly painful. Whenever I had a midterm I threw up, said Swanson.

But all that work made Saturday s ceremony a reality. Despite being four decades apart in age, Swanson and her daughter became fellow graduates.

You re never too old to do anything if you have a dream, she said.

Mariah graduated with a degree in International Business.

Swanson graduated with a degree in psychology and plans to work in organ donation, a cause close to her heart.

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