Two generations of a family are wrapping up 2021 with Mercer University degrees. Donna and Kylie Brown, of Gainesville, began their educational journeys around the same time in 2018, and now they’re finishing them together. 

It was pure coincidence that both mother and daughter decided to apply to Mercer. 

“We both picked Mercer independently. We didn’t plan to do this together. We both picked it for our own personal reasons,” Donna said.

Donna, a hospital administrator at Northeast Georgia Medical Center who trains physicians in their medical residencies, holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in special education and was looking for a doctorate program in higher education to expand her knowledge in training professionals. 

“I’d been looking for a year or more for a doctoral program to join and had recently moved to Georgia,” said Donna, who is about to complete her Ph.D. in educational leadership, higher education through the Tift College of Education. “I found that Mercer really fit my needs. It allowed me to have not just a virtual experience but an on-site experience as well.” 

The program Donna enrolled in was mostly virtual but also had courses in person on the Atlanta campus a few Saturdays a semester. Kylie, a political science and history double-major, has been on the Macon campus.

From her first canvassing experience at 7 years old, Kylie knew she wanted to have a career in politics. She also had a knack for history, which perfectly complements political science. But after her family moved from Texas to Georgia for her senior year of high school, she wasn’t sure where she wanted to go to college.

“I was kind of scrambling. I happened upon Mercer. I went and saw the campus, and I really liked it. I ended up getting scholarships,” Kylie said.

Although the Browns aren’t on the same campus and don’t have the same coursework, they said it has been neat to share their Mercer experiences and talk about University events and happenings. Kylie said she even passed some of her free Mercer shirts on to her mom.

“It’s been kind of cool to have her support the same school and the same traditions,” Kylie said. “We can tell stories about Mercer. When you come to the campus, you rub the head of Jesse Mercer. I have a picture of me doing that. She has a picture of her doing that. It’s kind of cool having those similarities.”

Donna said it’s been special to be able to tell others that she’s on this college journey with her daughter.

“It’s a cool opportunity for us to be doing something similar in the same university,” Donna said. “I’m super proud of Kylie and all the hard work she’s done in the last 3 1/2 years. I think she made a good decision to go to Mercer. It’s been an awesome experience for her, and she’ll have these memories to carry with her. I’m doing this later in life and later in my career, and it’s been a great opportunity for me as well.”

Donna will continue her medical education work with resident physicians, and her Ph.D. will allow her to do more medical education research and contribute scholarly publications to the field

Kylie, who graduated a semester early, plans to take a break while continuing her service work around Macon. She is the District 8 post seat holder for Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections and secretary for the Macon-Bibb Democratic Party and plans to apply for jobs in upcoming campaigns. Graduate school is not out of the picture for her future.

“I want to be a campaign manager, not just at the local level but state level and beyond. That is what I’m good at,” Kylie said.


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