A journey through college together: A mother and son earn degrees from Terra State

Daniel Gerwin and Melanie DeLaHamaide

FREMONT — Terra State Community celebrated graduates during their May 10 commencement ceremony — two of which had more than just graduating as a connection.

Melanie DeLaHamaide and Daniel Gerwin II walked across Terra State’s stage, earning their degrees and they happen to be mother and son.

DeLaHamaide and Gerwin both graduated from Fremont Ross High School. DeLaHamaide earned her associate degree in business management, while Gerwin earned an associate of art degree.

“Having my son by my side during this journey is unexplainable,” DeLaHamaide said. “Although I am the mom, I have always felt that my kids have taught me more than I could ever teach them.”

DeLaHamaide said her experience at Terra State taught her more than just what she needed to earn a degree.

“The long nights of overwhelming stress, along with the missing out of fun times with family and friends, made me realize how strong I actually am,” she said. “The support I received from those closest to me gave me the ability to keep working hard towards my goal.”

Gerwin who was attending high school and full-time college courses also helped DeLaHamaide take care of his siblings so she could get her school work done.

“I feel that my college experience wasn’t just mine; it was theirs too,” she said. “My little family became closer throughout this time and I am beyond grateful for that.”

As a single mom, DeLaHamaide said going back to college wasn’t about what she learned in her textbooks, but what she showed her children how it is never too late to follow their dreams.

“Words can’t describe the pride I felt sitting next to my mom at commencement,” Gerwin said. “Everything we’ve been through the past few years had seemed like nothing now that we were able to celebrate such an amazing achievement not only for myself, but for my mom as well.”

Gerwin said his experience at Terra State was, “a great one.”

“My mom and I have found that Terra has been so convenient during this journey together,” he said. “As a CCP (College Credit Plus) student, Terra was very understanding with my schedule and worked around my necessities as I was still a high school student.”

Gerwin plans to attend Bowling Green State University in the fall to pursue a career in nursing.

“Going through college with Daniel helped tremendously,” DeLaHamaide said. “We took similar classes so there were times that I had to ask him for help.”

Gerwin helped to keep DeLaHamaide focused and he never stopped encouraging her, she said.

“Then sitting next to him in our cap and gowns and walking across the stage knowing he was right behind me made me so very proud,” DeLaHamaide said.

“The fears and stress were all washed away on commencement night.”

“Having the opportunity to go through this journey with my mom is another story,” Gerwin said. “Seeing my mom pushing through during several tough nights of schoolwork piled on top of her stressful days at work gave me another motive to keep myself going. My mom and I have only grown closer during this process and I am more than blessed to have her by my side.”

DeLaHamaide said she decided to go back to school after not being able to grow at her previous job.

“I wanted to take my experience and new education and find something that I was truly happy at,” she said.

DeLaHamaide is currently working at Mosser Construction as the billing specialist.

“I feel like I have achieved two goals that I set out for; earning my degree and starting over in a new career,” DeLaHamaide said. “This new beginning has been scary, but I have no regrets and I look forward to what the future holds for my family.”