EAST MACHIAS, Maine — For the past six years, late at night when most of us were long tucked into bed, Lucille Bragg, 53, most often could be found at her computer, completing online homework assignments toward her college degree.
Two miles through the darkness across town, at her own home in East Machias, Bragg’s daughter Sharon Davis, 29, also was bent over her computer, also deep in online coursework.
Night after night, weekend after weekend. Family events were sometimes postponed; sleep put off. For a dozen semesters, the pair left early each workday for their jobs at Machias Savings Bank and returned each evening to the computer classes.
On Saturday, May 14, the mother-daughter duo will graduate together from St. Joseph’s College in Standish — Bragg with a long-delayed bachelor’s degree, and Davis with her master’s degree.
“I am so very proud of her,” Davis said of her mother. “She was working so hard herself but at the same time was a tremendous support to me.” Davis said she frequently had her mother review homework assignments and read papers. “She was always there for me. There is no doubt that her support got me through this.”
Tearing up at her daughter’s words, Bragg said it was Davis’ example that pulled her through. “I’ve always enjoyed learning, and I’ve always encouraged my children to not stop learning,” she said. “It is one thing to have pride in your children but to share their accomplishments with them, well, that is beyond a dream come true.”
Bragg said she attended the University of Maine at Machias for early childhood education in 1979. Her 2-year-old son attended classes with her, sitting on her lap as she learned.
“But when I got pregnant with Sharon, it would have been too hard to take two of them to classes. I became a stay-at-home mom for 20 years, and I never regretted it.”
When Davis headed back to college in October 2005 in search of her master’s degree, Bragg said she was inspired to go back and finish her bachelor’s degree.
While working at the bank, Bragg had taken a number of courses through the Northern New England Center for Financial Training and was able to transfer those credits and her UMM credits to the St. Joseph’s online learning program.
“The program provides flexible hours and a self-guided direction,” Davis said. “Plus their master’s program had a leadership program.” Although Davis said her master’s is a personal fulfillment for her, she recognized its benefits at work. “I’ve become a supervisor since I began taking the classes,” she said.
Achieving her degree is a personal goal for Bragg. “It is kind of like tying up a loose end,” she said. She said she needed four classes last fall in order to graduate with her daughter this spring and at one time was taking three classes while working full time. She will be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in banking.
Davis was taking two classes, raising her son and working full time. She will receive her master’s degree in quality leadership.
Both women credited their husbands with “picking up the slack” while they studied. Jack Bragg had to learn how to do housework, his wife said. Adam Davis would often take the couple’s 4½-year-old son off on adventures to give his wife time to study.
The pair do not know whether they will be walking together at the graduation ceremony.
“Everything is pretty surreal at this point,” Bragg admitted.
The excitement continued last Thursday when Bragg opened a letter from St. Joseph’s informing her she was one of two students awarded the Business Administration’s Outstanding Student Award.
“I was so excited I called Sharon, and she said she had a letter too.” Both stayed on the phone while Davis opened her letter.
“She was the other awarded student,” Bragg said, beaming.