But what was once mother-daughter relaxation time turned into mother-daughter study time a few years ago. Instead of grabbing a fishing rod, the pair would pull out their notes, books and flashcards together aboard their boat.
In May 2019, both Angel Pinkerton and daughter Morgan will be graduating from UF, with a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in entomology and nematology, respectively.
Angel Pinkerton began her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2015 through UF Online. At the time, her daughter, Morgan, was pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology on campus before enrolling in a master’s program in entomology and nematology.
“This is a huge accomplishment for (my mom), and I’m so proud that she’s accomplishing a goal that she’s been working on for years,” Morgan said. “I’m excited for the both of us to take pictures in our cap and gowns together.”
While Morgan pursued her master’s degree in Gainesville as a double Gator, Angel took classes online, working full-time as a certified financial planner. She also runs a glass replacement business with her husband. The sister of a Gator graduate, Angel said she always wanted to attend UF and fulfill the personal and professional goal of adding a bachelor’s degree to her resume. Having been in the financial services industry for 30 years, Angel said she has earned several certifications but never a degree. “That’s always been in the back of my mind,” she said.
When Morgan, an only child, went to college, Angel said she felt it was a great opportunity to go back to school, given the extra time she had. Originally, she wanted a finance degree but later loved the broad exposure the business administration degree at UF offered her. “The fact that it was the University of Florida just held so much weight for me.”
UF Online was an ideal option, since the flexibility of online courses was beneficial, given Angel’s full schedule. With effective time management, she was able to carefully plan her study sessions around work and even turn in assignments early when she had the time. Angel also attributes her success to her professors. She made a point to get to know them through email, and their responses to her course-related questions were always prompt and thorough. The receptivity of Angel’s professors helped her always feel connected. “I felt very welcome, and I knew they were here for me.”
Angel’s courses even proved valuable in her full-time job and small business. The principles she learned in Dr. Brian Ray’s Leading Organizations course strengthened her ability to lead a team as a certified financial planner. “I highly recommend that class to anyone,” she said. “Dr. Ray is just an amazing teacher.”
Growing up, Morgan was very close to her mom. Angel led Morgan’s Girl Scouts troop, and the two would spend hours together planning community service events, going to football games, and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. Morgan said her mom is her role model, always teaching her to be strong and independent.
“Most people consider us sisters when they first meet us,” Morgan said. “We’re really close, and we tell each other everything. She’s my idol. I go to her for advice about everything.”
Although they were inseparable already, Morgan said that UF Online gave the pair an additional shared set of experiences.
“I was a first-generation college student, so my parents didn’t understand a lot of the things I went through before, but now it’s nice having her understand a lot of the struggles,” Morgan said. “My drive in school comes from seeing how hard (my mom) works and how much effort she puts into things.”
After graduation, Morgan plans to pursue a doctorate in plant medicine at UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Angel is ready to take a break from studying while continuing to work in the financial sector and as a small business owner.
As commencement approaches, Angel reflected on how being a UF Online student did not only give her a chance to connect with her daughter but also with a network of Gators around the globe.
“It’s a huge accomplishment to get into UF, to be able to be a part of something big,” Angel said. “I’m part of a family of Gator alumni. When anyone sees you with a Gator shirt on, there’s an immediate connection.”
“The feeling is amazing,” she added. “And just to experience it with my daughter is even better.”
Story by Alexandria Ng. Photos submitted by Angel Pinkerton.
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