Mother, daughter four decades apart are UW grads


by KING 5 News

Posted on June 15, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 15 at 6:00 PM

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.