Mother and daughter earn diplomas together
By Denise Dick
Mothers and daughters often shop, cook, gossip and visit the spa together, but one Mineral Ridge mom and daughter can add graduate to the list.
Adriane Perretti, 48, and her daughter, Jessica Loar, 23, both will receive their Youngstown State University diplomas at today’s commencement.
Loar’s degree is in fashion merchandising and photography, while Perretti’s is in accounting and forensic science.
“I’m excited to be graduating with my mom,” Loar said.
Perretti is looking forward to it, too.
“I’m proud that my daughter and I are graduating together,” she said.
Extended family is coming to town to see commencement this morning at Beeghly Center, with actor and city native Ed O’Neill the featured speaker. Both mother and daughter count themselves as fans of the actor.
Both Perretti and Loar said attending college at the same time strengthened their relationship.
“It brought us closer, and we’re more like friends,” Perretti said.
There was some friendly family competition, too.
“When she first went back to school, I said, ‘I can’t let her get better grades than me,’” Loar said.
Mom and daughter had three classes together: communications, marketing and management. They got the same grade in one and each performed better in one of the other two. Loar’s overall grade-point average is a bit higher than her mom’s.
Loar began her YSU career right after graduation from Mineral Ridge High School in 2008. Perretti started right out of high school, too, but wasn’t ready and dropped out during her second semester.
She decided to return in fall 2009 after losing her retail job through downsizing.
“I got tired of losing jobs,” Perretti said.
The widow of a veteran, she learned Veterans Affairs offered education benefits to veterans.
“I decided to give it a whirl,” she said. “It sounded fun at the time.”
It was more difficult than she anticipated and required some adjusting.
Perretti never learned to study in high school, so she had to learn.
“I hadn’t been in school for a long time,” she said.
In most of her classes, she was the oldest student.
“Some of my colleagues — my fellow students — were younger than my kids,” Perretti said. “I had a few teachers who were younger than my kids.”
But she buckled down, did the work and finished.
Her mom’s experience made Loar appreciate school more, too.
“The first year I think I took it for granted,” she said. “In my generation, most people go to college right after school. It’s just something that you do.”
Perretti said she urged her children to pursue their degrees, stay in school and work hard. Her son, Phillip Eckenrode, is an attorney who lives in Columbus.
“I didn’t want them to live the blue-collar life like I did,” she said. “I’m not putting down blue-collar jobs, but it’s a lot harder. Around here, it’s hard to find a good job. It’s better if you have a degree.”
Both women parlayed their internships into full-time work.
Perretti starts full time next week in the accounting department at the VA in Cleveland. At the same time, Loar’s part-time job at Evaline’s Bridal in Warren becomes full time.