Maddy Brunt, Joy Brunt and Thomas Brunt walked together during WCC’s 2017 commencement ceremony. | Photo by Lon Horwedel

Communications Manager

As Joy Brunt walked across the stage to receive a Washtenaw Community College associate degree in Management, two very familiar names were being read aloud to the crowd gathered at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center on Saturday, May 20. Brunt’s 23-year-old son, Thomas Brunt, and 19-year-old daughter, Maddy Brunt, also graduated from WCC in 2017 and followed their mother throughout the commencement ceremony.

Joy Brunt, 48, is a program specialist at the VA National Center for Patient Safety in Ann Arbor. She said returning to school had more to do with personal achievement and growth than improving her career.

Maddy Brunt said her mom and brother’s impending graduation motivated her to fast-track her own education. With credits earned as a dual-enrolled college student while attending Grass Lake High School, she worked two jobs while packing her final 23 credits into two semesters at WCC.

“I wanted to graduate with my mom and my brother, so I thought why not speed up my education and walk with them,” Maddy Brunt said. “I just wanted the feeling of walking across the stage right behind my mom and brother.”

Maddy Brunt earned an Associate in Arts Degree while completing a liberal arts transfer program. After a summer internship with the Office of Washtenaw County Public Defender, she plans to study political science at the University of Michigan or Auburn University.

Thomas Brunt, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on commencement day, earned an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Automotive Service Technology and an Automotive Services Technician certificate. Employed as a technician at the Chevrolet dealership in Chelsea, he intends to continue at WCC and earn another associate degree in the Automotive Test Technician program.

There are two other WCC graduates in the Brunt family: Father Ron Brunt and middle child Makayla, 21, who is now studying biochemistry at the University of Michigan.

More mother-child celebrations

The Brunts are one of at least five mother-child combinations that completed degree or certificate programs at WCC during the 2016-2017 school year.

Donna Addison, 51, earned a Health Care Foundations certificate and has applied to the nursing program at WCC. Her 22-year-old daughter, Caitlin Dancik, completed a liberal arts transfer program with an Associate in Arts degree. While she contemplates her next educational step, she’ll travel to China this summer with Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges.

Erik Hettmer, 23, earned an Associate in Science Degree while completing a liberal arts transfer program. He will attend Wayne State University in the fall to study mechanical engineering. His mother, Sara Hettmer, earned a certificate in Technical Communication. The 52-year-old previously completed undergraduate work in journalism and English, and thought the fast-track program at WCC would complement that education.

Johannes Pardi, 25, was one of four WCC students to win a student production award from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on his way to completing a Digital Video Production certificate. His mother, Krista Pardi, earned an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Graphic Design and a certificate in Photographic Imaging.

Michele Sweeney, 59, and her 23-year-old son, Alexander, both received Associate in Arts Degrees while completing liberal arts transfer programs.