Brooklyn Student Graduates with Mom Next to Him, Also Getting Her Degree

A commencement in Brooklyn on Thursday was especially meaningful for a young man from Crown Heights, and his mom. NY1's Shannan Ferry has the story.

John Johnson always expected his mother Ana DeLeon to be at his commencement ceremony.

But instead of cheering in the stands, his mom graduated with him at Kingsborough Community College.

"She's just as capable as I am," Johnson said. "And to see that and to know there are absolutely no limits…it makes me happy."

DeLeon first enrolled in Kingsborough years ago as a teenager, but she didn't take college seriously, dropping out.

She said Thursday that her son's academic success inspired her to enroll again. So two years ago, they became classmates.

Johnson majored in liberal arts, while his mom studied business administration.

"We got a chance to do a couple of homeworks together, and, you know what, he's much better at math than I am, so I was even getting some personalized tutoring at home," DeLeon said.

DeLeon and Johnson said that at first they did not let any of their teachers or classmates know they were mother and son, but eventually it became a bit obvious.

"They would say, 'Oh well, why is he bringing him coffee? Why is she bringing him tea? Why is she bringing him donuts?'" DeLeon recalled. "So then, you know, it came out like, 'OK, well, that's my mom.'"

And their educational journeys won't end at Kingsborough: Johnson plans to attend New York University to study drama and English.

DeLeon will attend Baruch College and hopes to find a career in hospitality.

They hope their story inspires others. "She's relentless," Johnson said about his mother. "I get my drive from her."

"When I felt like I wanted to give up, he was there for me," DeLeon reflected. "He was like, 'C'mon, mom, you can do better than this!'"

And although they will no longer be classmates, they say they'll still motivate each other every step of the way. 

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