Mother and daughter team graduate together with same master’s degree

Mother and daughter team graduate together with same master’s degree
Posted on 05/20/2021

InspireNOLA’s Deanna Proctor, a fourth-grade math teacher at Pierre A. Capdau Charter School, and her daughter, Jasmine Proctor, both graduated from Southern University of New Orleans this May with their master’s degrees in social work.

The two, who coincidentally finished different degrees together previously, enrolled in the same program in with the intent of graduating together.

Deanna received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Southern University of New Orleans. Jasmine received her undergraduate degree in psychology and also has a master’s degree in criminal justice from Southern. Deanna graduated with her master’s degree the same time Jasmine graduated with her bachelor’s degree.

“My father was the Dean of College of Education at Southern, and my mother was a retired educator as well, so education is very important in our family,” Deanna said.

The two said they enjoyed being in the same classes, though Deanna joked that Jasmine didn’t want to be in the same group as her for projects.

“Everyone thought it was fun and funny and interesting,” Jasmine said. “I would have classmates who would say I ‘m not going to ask you. I’m going to go ask your mom.’ And I’d say, jokingly, ‘Go ahead. I don’t care.’ And then we’d pretend argue about the situation. It was great.”

They said there was never any competition between the two as far as who had the better grades, but instead, they would inspire each other. 

“Sometimes we collaborated,” Deanna said. “Sometimes she’d finish her assignments and that would encourage me to get mine done.”

Deanna and JasmineDuring their graduation ceremony, Deanna waited for Jasmine’s name to be called so they could walk across the stage together.

“It was special,” Deanna said.

Deanna said she wanted to pursue a degree in social work for two reasons: She wanted to be able to better advocate for her husband, a veteran of Desert Storm, and after observing a shift in her students’ needs, she wanted to be able to better serve them.

“I’ve been teaching for 25 years, and now the dynamic of the child has changed, especially with COVID. We really see the emotional needs of students and the need to meet them first before the academics,” she said.  
Jasmine, who had been working with the New Orleans Sheriff's Department, decided that career was not for her.

“It was more disciplinary, and I’m more rehabilitative so I thought ‘Social workers help people. Why not go into social work and then I can figure out why these people keep coming to jail and then we can come up with a solution,’” she said.

Both say their degrees have helped them better serve the children they work with.

Jasmine, who currently works with the Department of Child and Family Services, said it’s been beneficial, particularly when dealing with children in foster care.

“I find myself pre-diagnosing situations a lot of time,” she said. “Now I know there might be an underlying issue, and it might not just be a bad day.”

Deanna said it’s given her new insight on how to reach out to her students.

“Sometimes, it’s ‘Let me take the teacher hat off and try the social worker approach,’” she said. “I found I could get a better reaction and have the kids open up more. Even the parents open up more.”

While Deanna plans to continue teaching at least until her 30th year, Jasmine is currently considering going to law school or pursuing her doctorate in social work. 

“I want to continue to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves,” she said.

No matter what path their futures take, there’s no doubt these two women will continue to positively impact the lives of those they meet.