Education

Mother, daughter are UNC-Chapel Hill classmates

Posted September 7

— Backpacks on, morning classes over, Jennifer Cooper and Lydia Cooper walk across the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

The two classmates are walking a common path in life, but for Jennifer Cooper, life wasn't supposed to go this way.

"I had planned on a career," she said. "I had not planned on being a stay-at-home mother. That was not my goal in life."

She had gone to college 30-some years ago but never finished. Instead, she got a degree in motherhood by rearing nine children.

A couple of years ago, however, she and her favorite classmate enrolled at Central Carolina Community College together.

"I have an incessant need to improve, to be better, to learn more, to understand, to be a better person," Jennifer Cooper said.

She's majoring in psychology, as is her godsend of a classmate.

"Lydia had to tutor me with math because it's been so long. We bonded in mathematics," she said.

Actually, the two have had a bond since Lydia Cooper was born – a mother-daughter bond.

"I don't think it's awkward, just because we're on our third year now. But it is different," Lydia Cooper said.

After two years together in community college, they are now together at UNC-Chapel Hill.

"(We) definitely study together because we go about things the same way," Jennifer Cooper said. "We're both incredibly picky about our grades and obsessive."

She goes home to Sanford every day – she still has four children at home – while 20-year-old Lydia lives with an older sister who's also a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Both plan to graduate in 2019, with mother eyeing a career as a forensic psychologist or a teacher and daughter eager to become a youth counselor.

"We all support her definitely," Lydia Cooper said.

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