For a father, seeing his daughter walk across the stage to earn their degree is one of the proudest moments imaginable. And for a daughter, seeing the pride on the face of their father is likewise as impactful.
But the opportunity for father and daughter to walk across the graduation stage together? That’s a rare and priceless gem of an experience.
That was the reality for Jordan and Lauren Jones of Luling, who had the rare opportunity to share the honors at Tulane’s graduation festivities last weekend.
“It’s been a phenomenal experience from beginning to end. I couldn’t picture doing this with anyone else by my side,” Lauren, 25, said.
The two have been taking classes together for the past two years in pursuit of their respective master’s degrees in homeland security studies. For Lauren, the degree represents a start to her pursuit of a career in homeland security. For the 56-year-old Jordan, meanwhile, it’s a next step — the military Veteran of 32 years and former National Guard colonel is well-established in his profession as the GM for a security company that protects the US strategic petroleum reserve for Department of Energy, and he sought a master’s degree to stay competitive with his peers.
Before the two enrolled together, Jordan approached the Dean of Homeland Security Studies at Tulane and had a special request.
“I said from the beginning that my daughter and I planned to take all our classes together, and it would be great if he could arrange it so that she and I could be called up on stage together,” Jordan said. “It’s such a special and rare thing for a dad and daughter to do something like this.
“Of course, he made that happen.”
Lauren said the moment brought a wave of emotions upon her all at once.
“It nearly brought me to tears,” she said. “For Tulane to make that happen for us, I was very grateful.”
Initially, Jordan was resistant to joining the program, instead planning to enroll in online courses to earn the advanced degree or certification he needed.
“The idea of paying a lot to go to Tulane and going to classes, given that I have a full-time job, it didn’t seem necessary to me,” Jordan said.
But Lauren kept working on him, and one day, as the two made a trip to the Tulane bookstore in preparation for Lauren’s first semester in the course, Jordan ran into a colleague who was there with his own daughter.
“I told him I was there picking up books for my daughter who is getting into this program, and he told me, ‘Oh, I’m about to graduate from it myself.’ Lauren starts elbowing me and saying, ‘Dad, it’s fate.’ And that’s what convinced me to do it.”
Upon their enrollment, Lauren moved back in with her father and the two scheduled every class together. They sat next to one another in each of them, studied together and researched at the library together.
“We would be up until two, four in the morning, and we each had work the next day,” Lauren said, noting the two took night classes to balance their schoolwork with their jobs. “We’d be writing these 30-page research papers and I’d say, ‘Hey, when we’re both walking across the stage together receiving a Masters degree, it will all be worth it.’”
The two not only got through their classes together but excelled in them, both entering the graduation ceremony with a 4.0 GPA.
Jordan entered the course with a wealth of experience, but he did admit that there were a couple of tests that Lauren surpassed her father’s score.
“I told her I’d protest to the instructor,” Jordan chuckled. “She did beat me on a couple. I’ll give her that.”
As great as their walk across the stage was, Jordan said the journey was sweeter.
“How often does a circumstance like this come to pass where you can spend so much time with your daughter,” Jordan said, before adding with a laugh, “and still get along? We get along so well … it’s just a very special thing.
“While it was going on, I was proud of the accomplishment, but it wasn’t as much about that as it was me going through this journey with my daughter and how excited I am for her. I was trying to savor the moment.”
Lauren said she chose this field to follow in her father’s footsteps, something Jordan said he’s very honored by.
“There’s been lot of ups and downs for both of us, between me being wiped out from two part-time jobs, while my dad had hip replacement from two months ago,” Lauren said. “So we really had to lean on each other and support one another.”