Mom, daughter graduate together at UAlbany

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local mom and daughter were featured on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday after the two dared each other to go back to school together!

Paula O’Neil, 52, and her daughter 31-year-old Chantel Batuk are just two of UAlbany’s class of 2017 graduates but they took an unusual path to get there.

“I was in the service industry for seven or eight years doing different jobs,” Batuk said. “I had to really think about what was I going do after this.  There was one thing in my way, the GED, before you could go to college.”

“She did not want to go and do it by herself,” O’Neil said. “She’s like if you do it, I’ll do it. I think as a mom I would do anything to get her in there, and I was like alright, I’m doing it.”

Paula and Chantel both got into the school’s School of Social Welfare and they thrived. They’ve inspired two other family members to go back to school who graduated with their associate’s degrees in 2015.

The two are both expected to graduate with honors.

“She’s really just been a testament to me that it is never too late.  Things aren’t out of reach,” Batuk said.

“I was scared every single step, but my family is walking beside me,” O’Neil said.

This isn’t the end of mom’s academic journey. She’s been accepted for an advanced degree in the school’s social work program.

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