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Like mother, like daughter: Family represents Aurora University, Woodstock Center at Commencement

Posted by on May 5, 2014

Tami Donahue related to her daughter’s higher education experience in a special way -she earned a degree from Aurora University at the same time. A resident of McHenry, Illinois, Donahue took advantage of the convenient location of Aurora University Woodstock Center and pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration through the Adult Degree Completion program. Her daughter, Erin Harwood, earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree on the Aurora campus. Both Donahue and Harwood participated in the 2014 Commencement ceremonies at George Williams College and Aurora University respectively.

“I decided to go to AU directly because of Erin’s influence,” said Donahue. “When she was a freshman, she came home one weekend and told me that AU would be offering classes in Woodstock. She knew I had been interested in going back to school and how important it was to me to finish my degree. I knew she was very happy with AU. Returning to school was a goal in my life that always seemed to be pushed aside, but thanks to my daughter, I was able to fulfill it.”

Harwood chose to attend AU for similar reasons her mom took classes at Woodstock Center. “I liked that it was close to home and had small class sizes,” she said. “My mom encouraged my decision because she had a few colleagues who mentioned AU had a great social work program.”

With both students holding down two jobs while going to school, mother and daughter really relied upon one another for support. “I hadn’t been in school for 20 plus years,” said Donahue. “Erin helped me get into the swing of writing papers and learning about technology.”

Harwood was grateful for her mom’s help, too. “Throughout my college tenure, I had my mom proofread my papers,” she said. “Since we both were going through similar experiences, we could share when we were feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It has not always been easy, but my mom has shown how important education is to her by dedicating so much to finishing her degree. People always say once you leave school it’s very hard to go back, but I think my mom is a testament to how hard work can pay off.”

Beyond each other, Donahue and Harwood credit a support system at both campuses for helping them realize their goals. “The Woodstock Center advisors and staff are exceptional people,” said Donahue. “They worked hard, ensuring they had classes and teachers beneficial to me. They truly care about the students and want them to do well.”

Harwood believes her professors contributed to her success. “I really enjoyed the small class sizes and my professors,” said Harwood. “I knew quite a few professors very well and they helped me to achieve my best.”

Adds Donahue, “I feel education is very important to everyone’s future and always wanted to finish mine. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can.”


Aurora University is an inclusive community dedicated to the transformative power of learning, annually educating more than 4,900 degree-seeking students at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. The university has a long tradition of preparing students for lives of service and leadership, and using its resources and expertise to meet the needs of the community. In addition to its main campus in Aurora, Ill., AU offers programs online, at its George Williams College campus in Williams Bay, Wis., and at the Woodstock Center in downtown Woodstock, Ill. Learn more at

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Deborah Maue
University Communications