Mother, daughterwillgraduate together

Kaana Smith

It isn’t unusual for students to get help with their homework from their parents. But not all parents would go the lengths Judy Ojard did to help out her daughter, Mickey.
Mickey Ojard had been living in Seattle and taking correspondence courses at the University. Sometimes she let homework deadlines slip to the last minute. When that happened, she would send her work to her mother via a Greyhound bus. Her mother would pick it up at the bus station and make sure the assignments were turned in.
Judy Ojard understands how hard it can be to balance school and work. She’s a University student, too. And in June, the mother and daughter will share the spotlight when they accept their diplomas during commencement ceremonies.
“I think this is a very special situation. In fact, I’m probably more impressed by it than my mother,” said Mickey, 31, who will graduate with a degree in political science. Her mother will be completing a degree in fine arts.
They didn’t realize until this winter that they would be graduating together.
“It was kind of a fluke. One afternoon I just told her I was graduating in the spring and she said, ‘Oh, I’m graduating in June, too,'” Mickey said. “It was kind of a nice surprise. We talked about walking together, and we thought it was cute.”
Judy immediately called the University, asking if the two could stand together at graduation and if they would be in the same ceremony.
Since then, the duo has attended the University’s GradFair, purchased their caps and gowns and even posed together for graduation pictures.
However, things weren’t always so smooth.
In 1964, Judy was a 17-year-old high school junior in Duluth when she became pregnant with Mickey. Judy married Mickey’s father. They had another child before getting divorced five years later.
“Back then, you had to drop out of school when stuff like this happened,” said Judy, who was not allowed to attend her senior prom or graduation because she had a child. She did, however, graduate from high school. “Neither one of us wanted to get married, but what could we do? It was 1964, and there weren’t a lot of options out there.”
Judy left Minnesota and spent the next few years in the Army. She and Mickey lost contact for 10 years.
Judy returned to the Twin Cities in 1975. She took classes at Metropolitan State and received a sociology degree in 1988. Two years later, she enrolled in the fine arts program at the University.
While Judy spent time in the Army and attending school, Mickey lived in Duluth. In 1985, 20-year-old Mickey came to the Twin Cities to attend the University.
After a decade apart, the two moved in together and became fast friends.
Two years later, Mickey got married and moved to New Jersey. Five years later, while living in Seattle, she grappled with divorce — much like her mother. She was still in the process of completing her degree.
She returned to Minnesota last year, and she now lives in Roseville. She works for the lobbying organization League of Minnesota Cities.
Neither have really made big plans for life after school, but they’re excited about the graduation itself.
“She’s always been behind me,” Mickey Ojard said of her mother. “She said to me that my graduating from college was the best present she could have ever gotten.”