Mother and daughter cheer on each other as they both graduate from Mercer

madison golphin in front of angry bear statue
Madison Golphin. Photo by Matt Odom

When Madison Golphin began her undergraduate degree at Mercer University, she didn’t expect to be graduating the same year as her mom. But two years later, Lisa Golphin started her master’s degree, and now the family is celebrating two Mercer graduates. 

Lisa received her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in organizational development on May 14 in Atlanta. The next day, she watched Madison cross the stage and receive her Bachelor of Arts in global health studies

Each of their educations has been a transformative experience. 

“Mercer has allowed me to find myself,” said Madison, who entered college with plans to be a doctor. “It wasn’t until I took my first class in the Center for Collaborative Journalism — it was digital storytelling — that I rediscovered a passion that I had from childhood, which was media and working with a camera and doing photography and videography.” 

That, combined with reading the book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer in her senior capstone class and the University’s emphasis on servant leadership, led her to add a minor in media studies and pursue a career in the media. 

“Mercer has forced me to figure out what I would be best in doing and how I can be passionate in what I do,” she said.

lisa golphin stands with a faculty member wearing regalia
Lisa Golphin, right. Photo courtesy Lisa Golphin

Lisa, who holds an undergraduate degree in agricultural engineering from Fort Valley State University, came to Mercer for her master’s to help advance her career in the water industry. Since coming to the University, she resigned as senior executive of strategic planning at the Macon Water Authority, where she spent 20 years, to become a project manager 3 for the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority in Atlanta. In this role, she travels across the state to ensure communities have the water resources they need. 

“I don’t think I would have ever made that decision (to resign) if not for Mercer University’s organizational leadership class that encouraged me to step outside my boundaries,” she said. “I never would have taken that chance. It would have been too risky for me.” 

Both mother and daughter found nurturing communities at Mercer, among both their peers and professors. 

“My professor Evey Wilson Wetherbee hosted a screening at her house where we showed our documentaries that we made in her class,” said Madison, who was on the Macon campus. “I just always enjoy doing work outside of the classroom, and some of the friendships that I’ve been able to acquire are some of the highlights of my college career.” 

Lisa, who attended classes in Henry County and online, said she found a supportive group of women in her cohort who provided each other with different generational perspectives. Her professors, particularly Dr. Lynn Clemons, professor of organizational leadership, taught her to think past her boundaries.

“The education I received at Mercer allowed me to advance my career, to take me from a situation where I might not have seen any type of growth or development as a leader and made me make the decision to go somewhere I can become a leader,” Lisa said. 

Lisa is married to Derrick Golphin, a maintenance mechanic for the U.S. Postal Service. In addition to Madison, they have another daughter, Morgan, who is graduating with honors from Peach County High School this spring and will attend Georgia Southern University in the fall. They live in Byron. 


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