As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air. At UMGC, that means celebrating the love of learning that students, alumni and faculty have in common. For some, though, it’s not an individual endeavor. Instead, it’s a family affair.
Meet three families whose shared passion for education—and UMGC—has given them a lot to celebrate.
Katrina Carter ’23 and Jordan Carter: A mother and son in a race for their degrees
For Katrina Carter, the winter 2024 commencement was a long time coming. Her path to graduation started in 1999, right after high school, but life, motherhood and other responsibilities competed for her time and energy. As a young mother and full-time employee, it was hard to keep up with her studies, so she put them aside until 2014.
In 2016, two years into her degree program, Carter and her wife welcomed a daughter into their family and school was again placed on the back burner. But, as her eldest son, Jordan was graduated from high school and enrolled in college, Carter felt she wasn’t leading by example.
“All I could think was [that] he was about to go and finish college and I hadn’t. I had to get this done,” Carter said. So, one night while out to dinner, she and Jordan made an agreement to earn their degrees together.
“I bet you this, I’m going to graduate before you,” she told him. “You stay on this path and we’re going to do this together. I dropped him off at Old Dominion University, and I’ve been on my way ever since.”
Last December, the dream of a degree came true for both of them Katrina received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in human resources from UMGC a day before her son, Jordan, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Old Dominion University.
Ancha’ Maples ‘23 and Rozia Henson ‘19: Adult siblings mark commencement with a surprise
Ancha’ Maples was excited to take the grad walk in December 2023, at commencement, but the occasion was bittersweet. Her brother, Rozia Henson, said he was unable to attend her graduation from his alma mater, UMGC.
As a new member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he said it was impossible to break away to see her receive her Master of Science in Information Technology Project Management.
However, as Maples soon found out, that story was a ruse. When it was her turn to cross the stage, Maples looked up in astonishment. There was her brother waiting with her diploma in his hand.
“I wanted it to be a surprise, so I told her I couldn’t come because I’d just been elected,” said Henson. “The president’s office hid me until it was time for her diploma.”
Maples teased her brother as she brushed away tears. “You’re making me ruin my makeup,” she said, clearly delighted to see her sibling, who took office on Jan. 10, as the first openly gay Black man elected to Virginia’s legislature.
John Trarso Wulu Jr. ‘23, Prince John Trarso Wulu III ’23 and Josephine Wulu ‘09, ‘12, ‘13: Father, mother and son make three UMGC alumni
More than 40 years after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Liberia in his native country, Wulu received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in the United States.
For more than two decades, Wulu has taught at the university as an adjunct professor of mathematics, statistics and data science. His accomplished career has also included serving as an adviser and consultant to universities and technology corporations.
In 2023, Wulu earned his fifth university degree, an MBA from UMGC. He wasn’t alone on the big day. When he participated in the UMGC commencement ceremony last December, he walked alongside his son. Both Wulu and Prince John Trarso Wulu III graduated from the Master of Business Administration program.
Wulu’s late wife Josephine, a senior biologist at the Food and Drug Administration, was also a UMGC double alumna with two master’s degrees, and her legacy served to inspire her family members to achieve their education goals, together.
A loving celebration
For his part, UMGC President Gregory Fowler knows how pivotal family is to supporting students, from the beginning of their degree programs all the way through the grad walk.
“Family really contributes to our celebrations,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “Our students’ success depends on the sacrifices they make as they juggle full-time jobs, classes, their families and other life responsibilities. It also depends on the support they receive from their families and friends.”
Find out how you can share your love for UMGC by inviting a family member, friend or colleague to complete their education path. Learn more today!