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Like mother, like son

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This year’s Spring commencement at Georgia Southern was a special time for mother and son Beckie Lee May and Austin May, both of whom graduated with degrees from the University.

Beckie, a math teacher in Walton County, Georgia, received her Education Specialist degree in Instructional Technology, and Austin received his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. For Beckie, the moment was especially sweet, and was the culmination of a life of hard work and persistence.

“My son is the reason for all of my successes,” she said. “I raised him as a single mom and earned all three of my degrees while working and raising him and his sister. I knew from the minute he was born that I had to do more with my life and be a good role model of success to him.

“Being able to share graduation weekend at Georgia Southern with him was neat, but on the Saturday of his graduation, it was all about him.”

For Austin, the road to a degree was a difficult one, but he said reaching the milestone has been a defining point of growth in his life.

“Getting to that day was a rocky road,” he said. “You have days where you crush it and days that crush you. It was a difficult climb. I joked that I wanted to carve a brick out of the IT building as a token for all my time spent in there.”

Beckie previously earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Information Systems from Georgia State University, and worked as a software developer prior to becoming a teacher. She has been teaching in Walton County for nine years, and chose to pursue her Education Specialist degree in order to better integrate her technological background with her love of teaching.

“I am and will continue to be a high school math teacher,” she said. “My new degree in Instructional Technology and new endorsement in Online Teaching and Learning will allow me to advance in my career and be a teacher leader in classroom technology.”

While he was still an undergraduate student at Georgia Southern, Austin received an internship as a software developer for AT&T in Atlanta during the summers of 2014 and 2015. His hands-on training led to a job offer from the company, which hired him at the end of last summer as an applications developer. He will begin his full-time employment there in late June, and Beckie says she couldn’t be more proud.

“I feel like he is actually the better role model of success and certainly is one that his 14-year-old sister looks up to,” she said. “I am so incredibly proud of all he has accomplished on his own in the four years that he was away at college.”

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