Grandmother, granddaughter graduating together from MVCC
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org May 16, 2013 6:28PM
Nicole Cooper, left, and her grandmother, Patricia Radloff stand outside of a building on the campus of Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. They are both graduating from the school later this week. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times
Updated: June 18, 2013 8:31AM
Nicole Cooper will be sitting beside her grandmother, Patricia Radloff, during the graduation ceremony Friday night at Moraine Valley Community College.
It will be more than a sentimental gesture. Grandma and granddaughter both are graduating from the college in Palos Hills.
“We didn’t plan it this way. It just happened,” Cooper said.
They’re both happy it did.
“Of course, my daughter had to open her big mouth about it,” Radloff said with a smile.
Cooper, 20, of Crestwood, and Radloff, 73, of Bridgeview, each will receive an associate’s degree in science. Cooper will study either radiology or occupational therapy, while Radloff will major in special education.
Neither has decided where they’ll next attend school.
“I’ve been taking biology and anatomy and I really love those classes. I want to volunteer now and see which one I can go further with,” Cooper said.
Radloff, who graduated from Kelly High School on Chicago’s Southwest Side and works as an office manager/secretary for a downtown Chicago law firm on the 93rd floor of the Willis Tower, chose special education because “the kids touch your heart somehow,” she said.
Why not retire at an age when many do?
“I need something to fall back on. How long can you clean the house? I can’t sit around at home. If my husband was still around, I probably would retire, but I’m a widow,” said Radloff, whose husband, Norman, died 14 years ago.
Cooper is impressed by her grandmother’s decision to get a degree and start a new career.
“I think it’s awesome. Many of my friends’ grandmas are at home. They’re not doing what she’s doing,” Cooper said.
Because she had to work, enrolling at Moraine Valley made perfect sense for Radloff.
“Say you go to DePaul or Illinois or whatever. Those first couple years, it’s just (required general education classes) not your major. So why pay all that money when you can come to a community college and get the same thing, which is transferable to any four-year school?” Radloff said.
Because of Cooper’s good grades in high school — she graduated in the top 10 percent at Shepard High School — she had a two-year scholarship at Moraine Valley. She may take a class there this summer, the last semester she can.
“I’m not going to take any classes in the fall,” she said. “I’m taking a break.”
The two never had a class together at Moraine Valley. Nor did they run into each other on campus. Cooper went to day classes and Radloff to evening sessions.
But on Friday night, these family members will have something in common: college diplomas.