68 year old graduates from TSU, grandma & granddaughter graduate from Tennessee State together, National, News, Success Stories, Tennessee State university, Theresa Lyles, Zuri Lyles -

A Grandmother and Granddaughter Receive Their Degrees Together From TSU

68 year old graduates from TSU, grandma & granddaughter graduate from Tennessee State together, National, News, Success Stories, Tennessee State university, Theresa Lyles, Zuri Lyles -

A Grandmother and Granddaughter Receive Their Degrees Together From TSU

Tennessee State
Theresa Lyles, 68, and her granddaughter Zuri Lyles, 22, (TSU)

Two generations under one college roof graduated from Tennessee State University together Saturday, May 5.

Zuri Lyles 22, and her grandmother Theresa Lyles 68 are a good 40 years apart, but both set their achievements high.

In 1967, Theresa was enrolled at TSU but made the decision to drop out in 1970 in order to take care of her family. Over a year ago, the grandmother of 15 registered back into college and found out through her academic advisers that she merited enough credits to put her close to graduation. She now holds a degree in sociology.

“I never contemplated this,” Theresa said according to Fox 17 News. “Who knew that when I started back then that I would be graduating at the same time as she did. Nobody but God.”

During Theresa’s schooling, her middle daughter Zuri’s mother passed on January 6 and left the pair in a heartbroken state.

“That hit us so hard that I almost dropped out because I was struggling and my grandmother went through a depression,” said Zuri. “But we kept encouraging each other. Through it all, we started working harder and did everything we needed to get the job done.”

The 22-year-old received her bachelor’s degree with honors in health information management and a minor in business. She’s been offered a job as an information systems analyst with St. Thomas General and is planning to enroll in graduate school to earn a physical therapy degree.

The 68-year-old grandmother conveyed that she “always wanted to come back, but just never had the chance to do it.” She said, “I am glad I did, and it’s even better that I am doing it with my granddaughter. We encouraged each other. It was tough, but we had to tunnel through.”

Zuri added, “It [graduation] feels amazing and life-changing for both of us.”

The Lyles make history and are the first grandmother and granddaughter duo in more than 100 year old history at TSU to graduate at the same time.


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