When fall semester kicks off at Mercer University this week, freshman Cameron White won’t be the only one in her family attending class.
While the residential undergraduate will begin her studies in Macon to become a physician assistant, her father, Walter White, will begin his journey as a working adult student at the University’s Regional Academic Center in Henry County.
Walter, who is a lieutenant in the DeKalb County Police Department, said he didn’t think about going back to school to finish his degree until after Cameron got into Mercer.
“Once we were going through the campus, it was like, I wish I could go back 20 years and redo everything because I would have done it a little bit differently,” he said.
When he learned the University offered classes in Henry County, he applied. Both he and Cameron were excited when he was accepted.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” she said. “I was really happy for him when he got in.”
Cameron is majoring in biology, and her dad is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in religious studies.
Cameron said she chose Mercer because of its reputation for health care education and its welcoming atmosphere.
“Every time we went, I just felt a connection,” she said. “And the staff there, I was always getting emails from them and from my admissions counselor, so I felt like they were really invested in me, and they really wanted me to go there.”
Walter had the opportunity to go to college after high school, but at the time, he wanted to go out and start working instead. Later, as his three kids grew up, he wanted to get his college degree, taking criminal justice classes and attending seminary along the way.
His experience led him to stress to his children the importance of an education and getting a college degree while they can.
“Don’t wait ‘til later,” he said.
While her dad took an unconventional path, Cameron’s gearing up for the traditional college experience, moving into her residence hall and making new friends.
“I’m planning on rushing a Panhellenic sorority, so connecting with other girls, and then we can meet and bond over how much we don’t know about going for a sorority,” she said. “I’m just trying to make connections before school starts so that way the transition will be a lot easier.”