2015 Achieving Excellence

Dual degrees: Mother and daughter will graduate together

Slaughter and Smith

Kirsten Smith, left, with daughter Kirinne Slaughter
Photo by Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photos

Two degrees. One family.

Kirsten Smith, longtime executive administrative assistant to the vice chancellor for students, and her daughter, senior Kirinne Slaughter, both will graduate Friday from Washington University in St. Louis.

Smith will be receiving her Master of Liberal Arts degree from University College while Slaughter is earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from Arts & Sciences.

“I’ve been at it a long time, taking one class a semester,” said Smith, who started her degree in 2009. “It was always my dream to get an advanced degree, but life got in the way. I never felt like I had the time. But seeing what my daughter and all of the other students here have accomplished made me want to get in the classroom.”

Smith’s son, Dylan, also attends Washington University. She likes that her children are close, but she gives them space.

“I’m not a hoverer,” Smith said. “I let them come to me and they do, sometimes for advice, sometimes for a free lunch.”

Slaughter said graduating with her mom feels fitting.

“Once she realized we would be graduating at the same time, she came to me to see if that was OK,” Slaughter said. “She didn’t want to take away from my big day, but I think it’s great. My mom has been with me through everything, and I think it’s neat that we get to do this together.”

Slaughter, who plans to study marine biology in graduate school, will work at SeaWorld Orlando this summer and the New England Aquarium in the fall. Smith, for her part, plans to get back to class someday.

“I missed looking at the course listings for the fall, but they have a doctorate of liberal arts now, so who knows,” Smith said.

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