"Happy coincidence" as five members of one family graduate

BEECHER, Ill. -- It was a special day for Lawanda Flennoy.

For 25 years, she worked full-time to raise her three daughters, so finally earning an associate degree this month was especially sweet.

But the best part is that her children are graduating from school too -- all at the same time.

Her daughter Jade says this is a "happy coincidence," but Lawanda says "not so much for me -- it's expensive for me."

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Lawanda Flennoy, her daughters and her granddaughter all graduated in the same month.

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Amari just graduated cum laude from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is heading off to a job with Ford.

Paris just graduated from Chicago State and has a job with Apple.

Jade is graduating from high school and preparing to attend Illinois State.

 And four-year-old granddaughter, Brooklyn, is about to graduate from pre-kindergarten.

 If you're keeping score: That's three generations -- five family members -- all graduating in 2017.

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Lawanda Flennoy graduated with an associate degree after working full-time for 25 years to care for her three daughters.

CBS news

"I set expectations and they met 'em," Lawanda says. 

Was she a tough mother? "To say the least -- absolutely," Amari says, to laughter. 

Lawanda says it was "overwhelming" to be on stage with her diploma. 

Paris says it was "really exciting" to see their mother up there, because "this is something that we've been working towards for so long, but to actually see her doing it, you know, the focus be on her was something that was really, really exciting."

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Lawanda Flennoy and her daughters.

CBS News

And Lawanda Flennoy isn't stopping. She plans to get her bachelor's degree in psychology as soon as she can.

She says she "absolutely, absolutely" sets high goals for herself, as well as her children: "I have to set an example," she says. 

And that she has.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.