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Mom in right seat to see daughter graduate

Margie Romano had the best seat to see her daughter graduate - the one right next to her.

[Times photo: Brendan Fitterer]
Jennifer Romano, left, smiles at her mother Margaret Romano, during graduation Tuesday.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2001

NEW PORT RICHEY -- As her daughter grew up, Margie Romano rarely missed dance recitals, Girl Scout meetings and chances for late-night talks.

So when Jennifer, 20, graduated from Pasco-Hernando Community College on Tuesday night, Margie, 42, was there -- also wearing a cap and gown.

The Romanos, known around the school's Brooksville campus simply as "Mom and Daughter," were two of 249 students to receive certificates and two-year degrees Tuesday night at PHCC's graduation ceremony.

"I'm very proud of her," said Margie Romano, "and I'm real proud of myself to know my daughter was not embarrassed to go to school with her mom."

Margie graduated with four medical certificates. Jennifer graduated with a phlebotomy certificate and will continue to pursue certification as a registered nurse.

Margie was one of several graduates who arrived at PHCC more than 20 years after her last day of high school.

"Remember this time in your life fondly, then move on to greater heights, because you can," said graduation speaker Nancy McGrotty, 53, the west campus student government president who promised herself she would get a college degree after he husband died six years ago.

Seven students from the college's dual enrollment program graduated Tuesday with a two-year college degree before their high school graduation.

Graduation was moved from the parking lot to the gymnasium this spring, and the hoots and hollers (and cries of "Mommy") from family members echoed through the room.

But some relatives couldn't be heard -- and they weren't happy about it.

Because of the move inside, which students requested last year, a short supply of seating forced a few hundred friends and relatives to watch the 90-minute ceremony across the courtyard on a screen inside the performing arts center.

The cooler building and padded seats were little consolation to Bessie Brown, the mother of graduate Marcus Ghent.

"I came from Lakeland to sit in the auditorium," Brown said. "I'd rather be in the gym burning up and watching him than sitting over here."

Family member seating wasn't a concern for Margie and Jennifer Romano.

They sat side by side.

"This was something for her to do for herself," daughter Jennifer said, "instead of always being proud of my dad or me."

- Ryan Davis covers higher education and social services in Pasco. He can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 3452.

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