GCU empowers mom to graduate with her Army sons

June 07, 2018 / by / 0 Comment


Delores McLaughlin stands with her sons Joshua Williams (left) and Brandon Williams (right) at graduation.

By Ryan Kryska
GCU News Bureau

Two thousand miles separate Delores McLaughlin from her sons, Brandon and Joshua Williams.

But for the past few years, Grand Canyon University’s online schooling has made them feel much closer.

The mother from North Carolina and her sons out west graduated days apart from each other in April.

McLaughlin received a doctorate of education in Organizational Leadership. Brandon Williams, 38, living in Las Vegas, earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Joshua Williams, 30, earned a bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies.

“It was one of those rare events,” said Joshua Williams, who has been working as an Army recruiter in Gilbert, Ariz. “I know this journey is not over yet. But to have my brother and mother alongside me, not too many people can say they’ve done that.”

The brothers are both on active duty in the Army. They grew up in North Carolina, with their father also serving in the military.

Brandon Williams, the oldest of four siblings, said he became the first college graduate in his immediate family in 2002, when he earned his bachelor’s degree. But ever since then, McLaughlin has been the one to carry the family’s educational pursuit.

Delores McLaughlin and her son, Joshua Williams, at graduation.

She was the first of the three to enroll at GCU.

“She is the one who brought us all together. She is always on us about finishing up school, getting back into school,” said Brandon Williams, who plans on going back to GCU to receive the same degree as his mother. “Money was always an issue coming up. My mom was hungry. She just kept going.”

McLaughlin said her experience at GCU compelled her to get her sons involved. She said her enrollment advisor, Chad Kent, has become a part of her family. He promised her he’d be at her graduation and even brought Joshua Williams to church with him.

“My experience was so good that I was telling them about the program. I wanted them to share in that,” McLaughlin said. “And it worked. I am grateful for them that they listened.”

McLaughlin said 21 family members flew in for their graduations.

“It was absolutely amazing,” she said. “Just the most beautiful experience. They flew out there to be with us.”

Brandon Williams said now that he has a master’s degree, his next goal is to open a private school with his wife.

“Grand Canyon was really, really good support-wise, with me being active duty,” he said. “I felt like I was really taken care of. Just with everything that GCU did for us, it was a big deal.”

Joshua Williams’ wife, Samantha Williams, also attends GCU. She is on pace to finish her bachelor’s degree in Business Management in June 2019. The couple will be stationed in South Korea at that time, where they will stay for three years.

Brandon Williams (left) and his brother, Joshua Williams, take a selfie at graduation.

They plan to get their master’s degrees together while abroad.

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