A mother and son will both walk across the stage to receive their degrees from Chicago State University. Aaron Williams, 22, and his mother Tonya, 48, will collect their bachelor’s degrees on Thursday.
The two — who live together in Chatham along with Aaron’s father Kevin and brother Evan — took vastly different paths.
Aaron attended Chicago Vocational High School, where he was a standout basketball player who received all-Chicago Public League Red-South honors and was a 2010 McDonald’s All-American nominee. He then played for Dodge City Community College in Kansas before transferring to Chicago State. He played 2011-13 for the Chicago State Cougars — averaging 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including seven starts.
He sat out last season while finishing his degree in nontraditional studies with a 2.9 grade-point average; he plans to play next year while pursing a master’s in higher education. While he has a dream of playing in the NBA, he hopes to become an athletic director if he does not play professional basketball. […]
Tonya, with a 3.4 GPA, will be earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Tonya completed one semester at Chicago State in 1983, with intentions of becoming a nurse, but stopped after she got pregnant with her oldest son, Kenny.
“Before I knew it, I had two more sons,” she said. Over the years, she’s worked as an insurance underwriter, a bank clerk and a debt collector. She volunteers now for a nonprofit that works with mentally disabled adults.
But she’s always wanted to return school.
Tonya returned to CSU in 2010, enrolling full time and even attending classes year-round.
Aaron credits a lot of his family’s success to his dad, who never attended college but is a self-employed jack-of-all trades. He says it was him that kept everyone in school.
And both sons praised their mother. Evan said his mom is not earning just one degree this month. “As far as I’m concerned, she earned three diplomas this month because without her, we would not have been able to do it,” he told DNAinfo.
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