June 18, 2019

Mom, Son Pursue Education Goals Together

CSM Education Goals

The College of Southern Maryland offers a variety of degree and certificate programs at its four campuses around the region, allowing CSM students of all ages to stay local and close to family while saving money as they pursue further their education.

The Strong family of Waldorf is taking advantage of the CSM option two times over. Mother and son — Tomika Strong, 39, and Kenny Strong, 19 — are attending CSM together. It’s a shared experience that has strengthened family ties and is bringing the two of them closer to their goals.

“I just recently retired from the Air Force … and I have an associate degree in logistic transportation,” Tomika said. But she needs a different degree for a desired career change, so she is using the time after retirement to focus being a full-time student as she pursues an associate of science degree at CSM. Her goal is to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in family science from the University of Maryland, College Park.

“It is much easier going to school now than it was while I was in the military,” she said.

Tomika started at CSM with four classes in the fall semester, and she has already registered for four classes in the spring as well.

Her son Kenny is also taking four classes at CSM as he pursues an associate degree in computer science.

“My career goal is to become a video game designer/tester,” he said.

While mother and son don’t take any classes together and don’t even drive into campus together, they agreed that they both appreciate the shared experience of college life.

“It is awesome to be able to see him each day and to have conversation about what is going in our classes,” Tomika said. “I think it is cool that we attend the same college. I feel like we have more in common now, and he has a better understanding of what I was going through by taking classes while I was in the military. This is his first semester of college, and he is doing so well. I am very proud of his dedication to his education.”

“Attending college with my mom is good,” Kenny said.

While mother and son don’t study together because they are in different programs, they are learning a lot about each watching how each approach their studies. Tomika notes that Kenny graduated from high school in 2017, making him more used to the challenges of projects, papers, and exams. Her last class, meanwhile, was in 2014.

“I forgot what it was like to be in class on a campus,” Tomika said. “Most of the classes I have taken [in the military] were always online. It is really cool to participate in class with other students at CSM.”

“The thing I most benefit from while attending CSM is making friends and talking and interacting about things we like and what we can relate to,” Kenny said.

The Strong family has a third member in college. Lewis Strong, Tomika’s husband, is a full-time student at the University of Maryland, College Park. The family also includes high school students Kayla, 16, and Zeynel, 15.

To learn how to get started at CSM, visit the college’s website.

For information on CSM’s Veteran and Military Support Services, click here.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.

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