Mary Thompson-Appiah and George Appiah
Bachelor of Arts in Social Science w/ Education concentration*, 2009
Master of Arts in Education, Early Childhood Education specialization, 2011
"I attribute my success to my hard work, my instructors pushing me to the limit, and my family's support."
Mary Thompson-Appiah and her son, George Appiah, share a commitment to education, a knack for working with young children, and an entrepreneurial sprit. Mary has spent over 20 years as a licensed childcare provider and currently owns and operates a family childcare facility. "My aspiration is to give early learners the foundation to achieve academic success," she says, " and I love every minute of it." George is an Integrated Business Solutions Manager with NAPA Auto Parts, and he opened his own business, Sting & Skye Designs, in 2002. He also participates in clothing drives and coaches soccer for the Boys & Girls Club. "I hope to inspire children of all ages to strive to be better and to never give up on anything, despite the challenges and adversity they will undoubtedly encounter," he explains.
George often tells the kids to "never let anyone tell you that you can't do something," and he's applied the same philosophy to his life. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Ashford University. "My main motivation for completing my undergraduate studies was to prove the people who said I would never graduate wrong. Graduate school was more personal – it was to prove to myself that I could do it." George completed his graduate program in 2009, but as Mary explains, "He chose to delay his commencement and wait for me so that we could celebrate together."
View the above video of Mary and George at their commencement ceremony in Iowa.
Mary's educational journey actually began because she wanted to set an example for her three sons. She earned her Associate of Arts from Prince George's Community College in 2007, and then found Ashford University. "I wanted an accredited online university that would accept most of my previously earned credits and that would challenge me to do my best," she explains. "Ashford met all of my desires."
When she completed her Bachelor's degree, Mary decided she just wasn't ready to be done with school. "I told my family my taste buds were changing. I wanted to pursue a Master's degree." Mary reenrolled, this time pursuing her Master of Arts in Education. Despite health issues, and in addition to owning her own business and nurturing her family relationships, Mary maintained her high GPA in her Master's program. "I attribute my success to my hard work, my instructors pushing me to the limit, and my family's support."
The professional results of her hard work are tangible: the curriculum enabled her to "learn many ways of teaching early learners, and this experience has allowed my business to continue to grow." George describes a similar experience, explaining that he was able to relate his on-the-job experiences to his coursework. He also noticed that the diverse student population "offered fresh perspectives that allowed me to think about discussions in ways I wouldn't have before."
In April 2011, with four degrees between them, Mary, at age 52, and George, at age 28, headed to Clinton, Iowa to attend Ashford's commencement ceremony. Mary paid for her portion of the trip with the Ashford University Commencement Scholarship**. "When I got the call that I had won the scholarship, I screamed, hollered, cried, and praised God, and all of this in the ear of the man on the telephone."
George echoes his mother's excitement about graduation and says waiting to celebrate with his mother was "well worth it. The setting, scale, and overall ambience was breathtaking."
Since graduating, George says his "confidence has increased tenfold." He will continue to volunteer in his community and run Sting & Skye Designs, and he also hopes to find a position in a government agency. Mary will continue to build and improve her childcare facility, and she's also working to convince her other sons, Kofi and Kwame, that it's time to pursue their college degrees.
*This program was replaced by the Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies.
**This scholarship is no longer offered.