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From left, Cynthia Bird ’15 and her daughter, Amanda Meczywor ’15, are enjoying
their senior year together.

Mothers and daughters attend MCLA together


April Castonguay ’17 of Pittsfield had no intention of going to college until the day her daughter, Ashlyn Copeland ’16 of Lanesboro, began her freshman year at MCLA.

“She walked in, applied, and signed up for classes that same day,” Ashlyn said.

Cynthia Bird '15 had worked at North Adams Regional Hospital for 26 years before it closed suddenly last year. She then decided to join daughter Amanda Meczywor '15, a psychology major and softball player, at MCLA to finish the degree she started at Berkshire Community College (BCC) more than two decades before.

As a result, April and Ashlyn, along with Cynthia and Amanda, are two of a number of mother-daughter duos who are earning their degrees together at MCLA.

C:\fakepath\Laura and Anika Dear cropped.jpg"I had always wanted to be a teacher, but chose a different path, based on my life at the time," Cynthia explained. "The advantage of going to school at MCLA with my daughter is, while I'm getting a high quality education, I am also able to be a part of her senior year.

"Not only am I her biggest fan both on and off the field, but she has always been one my biggest supporters, even more so with such a scary new journey for me," Cynthia said.  

Laura Lynn Dear ’15 decided to earn her Bachelor’s degree when her daughter, Anika Pommers-Dear ’16 (both pictured, right) was still in high school. It was Laura Lynn’s love of learning and her desire for employment in the international or diversity field – which she knew would require a college degree – which led her to attend MCLA.

“My family was very supportive of my decision to become a ‘non-traditional’ student,” said Laura Lynn, who is majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on international studies. “Anika and I found ourselves both attending MCLA when she returned to Massachusetts after having spent her first semester at Flagler College in Florida and I transferred to MCLA from BCC.”

Both commuter students from their home in North Adams, last year Laura Lynn and Anika took a travel course together about Hawaiian culture, then visited Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii with Dr. Sumi Colligan with the rest of the students in the class. This semester, they’re in Senegal, West Africa, where Laura Lynn is an independent study abroad student and Anika is enrolled part-time at MCLA through online classes.

“As an only child, I’m close to my parents,” said Anika, an environmental studies major. “I transferred to MCLA after my mom had already begun attending. The in-state tuition and the small size of the school hooked me. Going to the same school has been convenient for us, in that our schedules are similar. My dad knows he can organize family vacations around the MCLA calendar.”

C:\fakepath\Thomases cropped.jpgAlthough sociology major Casey Thomas ’16 of North Adams doesn’t share any courses with her mother, Angela Thomas ’18 (pictured together, right), they sometimes drive to campus together and wait outside of each other’s class to say a quick “hello.” They find it helpful to both be at MCLA as they help each other out with homework, papers, projects and more.

Angela decided to attend MCLA after seeing the positive experience her daughter Casey had.

“MCLA was for me because it is so close to home. It is so friendly and easy to communicate with professors and other students,” Casey said. “MCLA has been a part of my whole life. From elementary school to high school, I have attended field trips for some sort of activity or another, here at MCLA.”

Like the Thomases, Ashlyn and April carpool to campus. Because both are in the interdisciplinary studies program, they share two classes. A double major in education and interdisciplinary studies, Ashlyn said parents who attend college with their children are “the face of the future.”

“It shows how things are changing in the world. It’s more normal now than ever before for older people to return to college to further their education and make a change in their lives,” Ashlyn said.

“It’s a good thing that my mom chose to come at the same time,” she continued. Besides always having someone to go to lunch with, Ashlyn and her mother keep each other on track with their assignments.

“We went to Berkshire Community College together before this, and we finished with Associate’s degrees the same time,” Ashlyn added.  “It just made sense for us to both move on to Bachelor’s degrees together.”