Chester native Tyrone Sturdivant, a biology major, will graduate from Widener University with his bachelor’s degree on May 12, 2012.
After graduation, Sturdivant hopes to attend medical school, as he wants to become a doctor – and to relish his “own” graduation, as he’s always had to share it with his sister, Chardae Burton, who will also graduate from Widener this year with her master’s.
“Being four years apart, it’s just something I’ve gotten used to,” he said. When he started at Widener in 2008, he didn’t expect that he’d be sharing his college graduation with his big sister, let alone his mother, Tonya Burns, who will also walk across Widener’s commencement stage May 12.
Burns, who will receive her bachelor’s in business from University College, started at Widener in 2006. A year later, she became employed at Widener. Burton, who will receive her master’s in social work education, caught the Widener bug as well, and decided to pursue her master’s after graduating from Cheyney University. Sturdivant, a Chester High School graduate, chose Widener for its biology program. “Class sizes were small, which was important for my major,” he said. “They had a good program, and I know I’d be able to connect personally with faculty.” It was also an advantage to be close to home and his mother.
Having her family on campus was a perk for Burns, a single mother of three, who is eager for graduation day. “I never gave up because of my children,” she said. “It took six years, but it was well worth it.” Burns, who worked at Widener for five years, recently took a job as a HR coordinator for Harrah’s Chester. She admits that she does miss being on campus all of the time, as it was nice to have lunch with Tyrone.
Burns, however, will always be a part of Widener. “I was a student, an employee, a parent of an undergraduate student, and a parent of a graduate student; and now I will be an alumna,” she said.
“Here I am now planning a graduation party, and I have to remember I am graduating too,” Burns said. “It’s a great feeling. As I tell my kids - school is cool and education is paramount. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Having two of my children as college graduates is more important than my degree. They were my motivation.”
Tyrell, the youngest of Burn’s three children, is a sophomore at Glasgow High School. He is a basketball player and is maintaining a 4.0 grade point average; needless to say, he is following in the footsteps of his whole family, and will be starting to apply to colleges soon.
Sturdivant has created a legacy for himself at Widener, as he was a leader on campus. He was the founding president of the Widener Chapter of the NAACP and a student government association.
“We are all thankful to have spent time at Widener and for the opportunities we received,” Burns said. “This is where it all started.”
The mother, son, and daughter will all participate in commencement on Saturday, May 12 at 9:45 p.m. on Memorial Field behind Old Main on Main Campus.