Tennessee grandmother & grandson earn college degrees together


CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A grandmother and grandson in Tennessee walked across the graduation stage together. Shirley West, 69, and Bailey West, 25, graduated from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville on Friday.

It all started when Bailey returned to Montgomery County from Texas to live with his grandparents. Bailey said he didn’t know what the next chapter looked like.

His grandparents encouraged him to go back to school. Bailey told his grandmother that he would go if she went with him. So, Shirley did just that.

In the fall of 2019, Shirley went back to school to help her grandson earn his college degree.

Bailey said it would have been nearly impossible to finish without his grandmother there to encourage and support him.

“Because I was there with her, I couldn’t. No, that was never an option. I couldn’t leave after that,” said Bailey.

Shirley said she was grateful to have her grandson by her side. “

“I just felt like if I go and if it wasn’t for him being there, I don’t know that I would have been accepted as what I was being that different in age,” Shirley explained.

“Spending this time with him and making so many memories was a great reward for this grandmother,” Shirley said. “It has truly been a wonderful experience.”

Bailey said his grandmother always reminded him of assignments and that was a huge help as he was already working full time. Shirley hopes their journey can encourage others to learn.

“You’re never too old to learn and if you don’t think you have something to offer, then you’re wrong. Everybody has something to give in their life, to be able to touch somebody, doesn’t matter if they’re young or old,” Shirley explained.

The educational journey came to an end Friday afternoon when the dynamic duo walked together across the commencement stage, each earning an Associate of Applied Science in Management Technology.

Shirley and Bailey told News 2 they realized just how special this experience was when they graduated.

“It was emotional it was something to be around all these people clapping, saying they’re proud of us. And being there with this person,” said Bailey.

“And our family in the bleachers, yelling at us. They weren’t supposed to, yeah they weren’t supposed to,” Shirley said as they both laughed.

Shirley graduated magna cum laude with a 3.8 grade-point average. Now that he has his degree, Bailey plans to become a certified culinarian. Shirley told News 2 she plans to simply enjoy her eight grandchildren.

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