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Virginia mom, son grow closer through enrollment at James Madison University

leonard family JMU

On Friday, a Chesapeake family will celebrate two graduations at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

A mother and son will both graduate from the university.

LouAnn Leonard will walk across the stage first during the 1:30 p.m. ceremony for the College of Education, the School of Professional and Continuing Education and University Studies.

Son Bryce will follow during the College of Business commencement at 4:30 p.m.

Both ceremonies will take place at the Atlantic Union Bank Center.

“I never thought I would be graduating from a major university and can’t wait to say I am a JMU alumna,” said LouAnn Leonard, who is receiving a bachelor’s degree in individualized study with a concentration in early childhood education.

LouAnn Leonard earned an associate’s degree at Tidewater Community College before enrolling at JMU to complete her studies.

“I talked to several colleges about transferring,” she said. “When I talked to JMU, they told me that all my classes would transfer. That was a plus. However, what really sold me was how everyone I talked to at JMU was so enthusiastic, encouraging and took the time to explain everything to me.”

Bryce Leonard will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sport and recreation management and a minor in business.

“I have been very fortunate to have the support that I’ve had during my college experience, and once I found out my mom was enrolling in JMU, I knew I would have someone that truly understood what I was going through,” he said.

“My mom and I have grown so much closer through this experience, and I cannot be more thankful for that.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.