Two generations of women graduate together, and provide inspiration for the next generation.

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“When I go to college, I am going to be a nurse,” said Rachel, an 11-year-old pixie of a girl with corn-silk hair and a bright, airy voice. She piped up from the corner of the boardroom, where she had been playing quietly with her little brother. Her interjection into the conversation could not have been more perfectly timed. She was visiting Southern Regional Technical College with her mother, Marlana Bays, and her grandmother, Lynn McCollister, who had recently graduated together from SRTC.

Lynn and her daughter Marlana have a lot in common besides graduating on the same night. “I quit school in the ninth grade,” said Lynn. “I did, too,” added Marlana. Both were mothers by the time they were 16-years-old. Importantly, both wanted better lives for the next generations, so they decided to go back to school together. Looking over at the two sweet faces in the room, Lynn said, “I wanted for these grandkids to watch me and their mom graduate so they would learn that it doesn’t matter where you are in life. You don’t stop.”

On the night that Marlana walked across the stage in her graduation robes, she was eight months pregnant with her third child. She found online classes to be the answer for her as she managed two active children, a full-time job, a pregnancy, and her college courses. “I just made it work. My husband helped with the kids when he was home, and I would often squeeze in schoolwork after the kids fell asleep. With online classes, I could take breaks when I needed to, and come back to it when our schedule allowed.” Marlana graduated with her medical front office assisting certificate, but she did not stop there. She immediately began pursuing diplomas in both business management and medical assisting. “I’m diversifying my education at SRTC so that I can be prepared for whatever career I choose.” (She gave birth to her son, Kai Draiden Bays, on Friday, July 7th, one week after completing her mid-term exams.)

Lynn knows that the long and sometimes challenging nights spent studying together at her dinner table will pay off in her daughter’s life, and in the lives of her grandchildren.Graduate Marlana Bays in the garden of All Saints Church with her son and her daughter. As a mother of three and grandmother of eight, Lynn is thinking of the generations to come. “I am so proud of the hard work Marlana has put in. I want something better for her, so that she can provide better for her children. Each generation wants something better for the next one.” Of course, Lynn dreams of better for herself as well. “I have earned my associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, and now I love it so much. I’m going after my bachelor’s next, and potentially my master’s degree, too!”

Lynn explained that one of her reasons for completing college was a promise to her dying mother. “Before she passed away, I promised Mom I wouldn’t quit, that I would earn a college degree.” However, life got in the way, and Lynn says that she put that dream on pause for a while. “I gave up. I really did. I gave up on going back to school.” Looking at her daughter with a smile, Lynn added, “I kind of got encouraged to go back.”

Marlana says that she was intent on supporting her mom in fulfilling that promise. “I told her that if she would go to college, I would, too.” Lynn was able to fulfill that promise to her mother and to create a very special moment for her father. “Now my dad is sick. I wanted him to see at least one of his kids graduate college. He ended up getting to see two generations graduate on the same night. In fact, we were the first ones in our family to graduate from college.”

They may be the first, but if little Miss Rachel has her way, not the last. Their example is already paying off. Rachel will enter 6th grade in Thomasville’s Scholar’s Academy this fall, and she has big plans. “I want to go to Vanderbilt University. I want to see other parts of the world.” Rachel absolutely knows that college is hard work. She watched her mom and Grammy put in the effort. “When we would go to Grammy’s house, she was always working on school. Mommy had a LOT of homework, but now my Mommy can do anything she wants to do!"

SRTC offers over 148 degree, diploma, and certificate programs that are designed to get you quickly into your desired career, and 27 general education courses that transfer to the University System of Georgia institutions and 19 private colleges and universities in Georgia. SRTC has instructional sites located in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton, and Sylvester for the convenience of our students. The College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. For the most up-to-date information on registration, class dates, and program offerings, log on to or call (888) 205-3449.
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