A family affair: Mother, 2 daughters earn degrees in same year

Published 7:39 am Monday, May 20, 2024

May has been a busy month for the Magee family. In the span of just two weeks, Tonya, Tylah and Tia Magee, mother, and daughters, respectively, have earned diplomas.

Tonya received a doctorate in educational administration from Jackson State University; Tylah earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Alcorn State University; and Tia graduated with her high school diploma from River City Early College, while also earning an associate’s degree from Hinds Community College.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Dr. Cedric Magee said. “But I am extremely proud of my wife and daughters. They really worked hard.”

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When Tonya decided to go back to school, she said, there were no plans made for all three to graduate at the same time.

“It just happened that way,” she said.

Tylah referred to the triple graduations as “one big coincidence.”

“Like my mom said, it wasn’t’ supposed to happen. I just so happened to graduate college a little bit earlier due to my dual enrollment and my mom just so happened to be finishing up her doctorate in May. And Tia just so happened to finish high school,” Tylah said, adding, “I told my dad, ‘Your girls are doing high things right now.’”

While having three graduations was just happenstance, dedication and working hard is common practice in the Magee family.

“You know, to be honest, it really hasn’t been anything out of the norm,” Dr. Cedric Magee said, of his daughters and wife pursuing their educational goals.

As the Vicksburg Warren School District deputy superintendent, Dr. Cedric Magee said he and his wife, who is the principal at Vicksburg Intermediate, have always led by example and stressed the importance of education.

“Education is very important in our family because it unlocks so many doors for your future,” he said.

Tylah echoed her parents’ sentiment.

“You know, growing up, we’ve always learned the value of education,” she said, adding they were always supported in every effort made.

“As you get older the courses get a little harder so my dad always said, ‘Hey, as long as you are doing your best, and passing the class that’s all I can ask of you.’ And that’s what he really instilled in us,” Tylah said.

Inspiration and motivation

In addition to their father having a doctorate, during the past three years Tylah and Tia have been inspired by their mother working toward her doctorate.

“We are so proud of our mom. We saw her work every day. She sacrificed a lot to get that paper done,” Tylah said. “My mom loves to shop. I don’t know if she would want me to say that, but she would sacrifice her Saturdays — her shopping days.” 

“And her T.V. shows,” added Tia — “to study. And when I saw her studying, I would say, ‘let me get up and study too.’”

Tonya said she was also proud of her daughters.

“My girls are very disciplined when it is something they have to accomplish, they work until they get it done,” she said.

With all this studying going on, the house was quiet, Tonya said: “Very very quiet,” which left her husband living within those constraints.

“Dr. Magee was a good sport,” Tonya said. “He would go upstairs and watch TV.”

Graduation ceremonies

With Tonya earning a doctorate, besides an at-large graduation ceremony that would include all graduates in their respective colleges, there was also a hooding ceremony. During a hooding ceremony each doctoral candidate is introduced individually and then a hood is placed on the graduate. Tonya was hooded on May 2 and her graduation ceremony was the next day.

For Tylah, in addition to her graduation from Alcorn on May 11, she also had a pinning ceremony. A pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of newly graduated nurses. The pinning ceremony was held May 10.

Tia’s graduation from Hinds was held in Raymond on May 9 and her RCEC graduation was held May 15 at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Tylah said, initially, it didn’t seem that big of a deal that all three of them were graduating, but after “going to 50,000 ceremonies” she said, it hit her that this had been kind of a “big deal.”

“God has been really good to our family,” Dr. Cedric Magee said.

On a side note

Tia will attend Jackson State in the fall and study environmental engineering. Unlike most graduating high school seniors, Tia had the opportunity to share this special time in her life with her mother and sister. But when it comes time to receive her degree from JSU, she said, “I guess I’ll be the only one graduating from college.”





About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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