Mother, daughter cram together

May 26, 2005, vol. 33, no. 3
By Roberta Staley

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The family that crams together, stays together.

Certainly that's the case for Susan Richards and 22-year-old daughter Samantha Richards of Prince George in northern British Columbia.

The two women graduate this spring with a bachelor of arts in criminology. Both have stellar grade point averages, although Samantha edged out mom by a nose when it came to final marks. Samantha is the first to admit, however, that she couldn't have achieved all As without Susan's support and encouragement.

Susan, who became a wife and mother in her early 20s, decided to pursue a post-secondary education - fulfilling a life-long dream - when eldest daughter Samantha entered Prince George's College of New Caledonia.

Both women entered criminology. Because of scheduling, the pair often found themselves in the same classes and graduated together two years later with a criminology diploma.

The courses were transferable to SFU's criminology degree program - a prospect made easier when Susan received the Ken Capel entrance scholarship. (Samantha received several scholarships before and during her time at SFU.)

Leaving husband Lynn and 15-year-old daughter Victoria to run the household in Prince George, Susan and Samantha took up residence together in Louis Riel house. The pair spent three semesters at SFU completing their degree, which they found much more demanding than college.

“It was shell shock,” admits Samantha. “My experience at SFU would have been much different, in a really bad way, if mom hadn't been there. The first semester, we had our noses in our books almost 24 hours a day. At points, I would be really sad, lonely and frustrated and I wanted to go home. A few weeks later, the role would reverse. But we pulled each other out of it by sharing our feelings and encouraging each other.”

Like most students, money was at a premium. The pair took many of the same courses at the same time, saving up to $500 a semester on textbooks, Susan says.

Although they studied, crammed and quizzed each other, they also took time out for fun, attending pub nights on campus. And yes, reveals Samantha, Susan did get asked out on dates by younger male students.

The women were delighted to find that they would be working together during their semester-long practicums, which finished at the end of April.

Both returned to Prince George to work in probation. Samantha dealt with adult sex offenders, Susan with youth.

Mom and daughter have been thick as thieves for the past four years, however, their paths are now diverging. Samantha is marrying and buying a house with her finance Rob. Her plans to pursue law will be delayed for several years.

Susan has plans for a masters degree in counselling. But there is one thing for certain - if Susan needs any help in the future cramming for an exam, she knows who to turn to for quizzing.

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