Mother and son graduate together, capping off 30-year dream

Published 6:42 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

LAFAYETTE — NaTasha Creecy enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1992. Then life happened — she got married, had children, and she put her education to the side to take care of her family. NaTasha and her son, De’Jon Muhammad, both walked across the stage during UL’s 2023 Spring Commencement Ceremony on Mother’s Day weekend, bringing a 30-year journey full circle.

NaTasha watched her mother’s face light up when she saw her in a cap and gown on May 13. Her graduation was a well-kept secret; she’d only talked about celebrating De’Jon in the weeks leading up to the big day.

Graduating together was never the plan, and Natasha worried it would take attention away from her son. De’Jon reminded her that it was an important milestone in both of their lives, and he was honored to share the spotlight with her.

“I’m very proud not only of myself, but more so my mom because she stopped and came back and finished,” De’Jon said. “She is the strongest person I know, and she is a prime example of ‘it’s never too late to follow and accomplish your dreams.’”

De’Jon chose to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette after graduating from East St. John in 2018. He was three years into his degree when his mother was accepted into the university’s online program.

NaTasha recalled that her journey back to school started from a conversation with her brother. When he asked what was holding her back from finally completing her degree, she told him the cost of education was the biggest barrier. He challenged her to enroll with the promise that he would pay for her tuition.

Suddenly, the only roadblock left in NaTasha’s path was her own self-doubt.

“The most challenging part was me being afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Here I am, almost 50 years old and enrolling in school,” NaTasha said.

She soon realized her fears were unfounded. Since she had completed the bulk of her degree after high school, she was able to complete her remaining coursework and electives within two years. During that time, she and her son appeared on the dean’s list together. Her GPA never dropped below a 3.5, and she finished her last semester with a 4.0.

Both NaTasha and De’Jon chose to major in general studies to have more flexibility in deciding how to apply their degrees. For De’Jon, that meant concentrating in kinesiology with tentative plans to pursue physical therapy school after graduation. NaTasha, who is employed by the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District, chose to focus her coursework in elementary education. She plans to stay in St. John Parish and work as a preschool teacher, equipped with newfound knowledge from her time in school.

“It was a relief to me. This is a goal I set out to accomplish, and I finally accomplished it,” NaTasha said. “It’s surreal right now. I just can’t believe it happened, especially with my son. I’m elated that we are both done.”

Even more surprising to NaTasha was the enormous outpour of love and support she received not only from friends and family, but even from complete strangers. She is proud to set a positive example for her children and for the community.
“People who I don’t even know have reached out to me, saying I’m an inspiration to them. That was never my intention, but I’m glad that I was able to motivate people to go back to school,” NaTasha said. “That just makes my heart overjoyed. It’s never too late to finish what you started, and it’s never too late to start.”