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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published July 17 2011

Mother and daughter to graduate together

MOORHEAD – For Penny Chambers, taking a year off before going to college turned into nearly a decade.

But when her mother, Jessica Remund, became a college student in her 40s, Chambers found new inspiration.

Now the mother and daughter are finishing their degrees at Minnesota State Community and Technical College and will graduate at the same time.

“I have a lot of strive and goal now,” said Remund, 47, of Glyndon. “I wish I would have had it when I was younger.”

Remund said she didn’t attend college right away because she joined the Air Force Reserves, got married young and had Chambers, her oldest of three children.

But Remund held onto a goal that she would pursue higher education after her children were older.

In 2006, Remund enrolled at the Moorhead campus of MSCTC, taking primarily online courses. She works for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Fargo scanning medical documents, and she would like to advance to medical coding.

Remund balanced her classes with working full time and caring for her two children who still live at home: Mason, 17, and Mazie, 13.

She earned a one-year diploma in medical coding and insurance and is finishing an associate’s degree in health information technology this summer.

After finding success at MSCTC, Remund started encouraging Chambers to enroll.

“She was always kind of on my butt about it,” said Chambers, 29, of West Fargo.

Chambers didn’t know where to start, but her mother helped her register for classes and sign up for assessment tests.

Once she got started, Chambers realized she liked school and maintained grades high enough to be in an honor society.

She also had to juggle raising her 8-year-old daughter, Kianna, and working as a server at the Village Inn in Fargo, as well as on campus as a peer adviser and tutor.

Chambers will complete the coursework for her associate’s degree in liberal arts this summer, at the same time as her mother.

They plan to participate in the next commencement ceremony at MSCTC, which will be in December.

“I’m very proud,” Remund said. “I can’t wait to do the walk with her.”

But neither woman is stopping after this degree.

Remund is registered this fall to work toward a medical administrative assistant degree. After that, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Chambers has been admitted into the dental hygiene program at MSCTC, a competitive program that accepts 20 students per year.

Terisa Ohnstad, an academic adviser at MSCTC, said many students who postpone college for various reasons are strong students once they decide to go back.

“When they make the decision to go to college, many just really put 110 percent into it,” Ohnstad said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590