A Family of Gators: Mother and Daughters Attend the University of Florida at the Same Time

Attending the University of Florida is a family affair for the Vetter family. Marissa Vetter, 55, has been a Gator at heart since her oldest daughter, Madison, was accepted into the University of Florida for her bachelor’s in animal sciences. Marissa never imagined that a few years later, she would be attending the University of Florida at the same time as all three of her daughters.

Today, Marissa is working towards her bachelor’s in sociology via UF Online, while her two youngest daughters, Brooke and Taylor, are also attending UF for their bachelor’s degrees in business. Madison is continuing her studies at UF’s veterinary school, making the Vetters a Gator family through and through. For Marissa, there is nothing more rewarding than getting to earn her degree from the same University that her daughters attend.


Over the years, Marissa has always wanted to finish her degree, but the time wasn’t right. After graduating high school, Marissa went straight into working a full-time job, only attending classes at a local community college at night. Once she earned her Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree, she attended the University of North Florida for a short time before getting married and starting a family.

“It wasn’t practical for me as a mother with a family and a full-time job to attend classes in-person,” Marissa said. “That’s why when online education started growing, finishing my bachelor’s degree became a real option. I couldn’t think of a better place to finish my degree than the University of Florida.”

Marissa soon decided to apply to UF Online for a degree focused on sociology. Not only was Marissa surprised by her acceptance letter but so was her family. “My mom did not initially tell us that she was going to apply to UF,” Madison said. “I think we were all shocked but very proud of her for going for it.”


As a Program Manager at a non-profit housing counseling agency, Marissa interacts with clients on a daily basis. When choosing a degree path, Marissa found UF’s Sociology degree, taught by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), to best suit her skill set and interests.

“I always have been interested in human behavior. At my current position, what I’ve learned is that sociology is very relevant and helps me work with a diverse group of clients.” Marissa went on to say, “I ultimately decided sociology was a great fit for me.”

Did you know?

A degree in sociology opens graduates up to an array of career paths. With a strong focus on studying human interactions, critical thinking, problem-solving, and more, sociology majors gain skills that are highly desirable in today’s growing workforce. According to ASA, 27.7% of sociology majors prefer to work a career in the non-profit sector after graduation.1

As happens in life, Marissa has faced some personal challenges of her own. Upon being diagnosed with breast cancer, she needed to take a couple of semesters off to focus on her health. Though this has pushed her graduation back, she appreciates UF Online’s flexibility and dedicated faculty who continue to support her every step of the way. Between work, family, and her personal life, Marissa finds taking one class a semester ideal for her schedule.

“For me, getting this degree is a personal goal of mine since I am already in a career that I love and am passionate about.” Marissa went on to say, “getting my bachelor’s in sociology will just add value to the work I am already doing.”


While the Vetters anticipate their future graduation dates, Marissa’s daughters couldn’t be prouder to attend UF at the same time as their mother. Brooke sees Marissa’s decision to go back to school at 55 while working full-time truly inspiring not only to her and her sisters but also to others. “I think it can show people that it is never too late to go back and finish your degree,” Brooke said.

Madison shares that same sentiment. “Growing up, we were always told that we could accomplish anything but actually seeing her do something, like to finish her bachelor’s degree, really proves that.” Madison continued,” it’s especially inspiring to see her spending her weekends studying after working all week and dealing with everything else in life.”

Taylor added that Marissa attending UF makes their time as students more special and rare. While it’s already exciting for Taylor to attend UF alongside her sisters, seeing Marissa join them as students makes it even more memorable. “Vetters work hard, play hard, and that’s exactly what we do as a family of Gators,” Taylor stated.

Although Marissa admits it’s not always easy to balance her life and coursework, she would not change the path she is on to finish her goal. UF Online has allowed Marissa to earn her degree without having to compromise quality.

“Being a UF student along with my daughters makes game days more exciting since we are a big football family. I’ve always been my girls’ biggest cheerleader in life, and particularly academics.” Marissa added, “it allows them to support me as well. They’ve been an amazing support system for me when it comes to my coursework.”

Marissa encourages other parents looking to finish their degree through UF Online to apply today. “You absolutely can do it since it’s a flexible, accessible, and economical way to get a degree from a top university.” As a family of four Gators, Marissa credits UF Online for making this dream of earning her degree a reality.


Designed and delivered by professors from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), UF’s sociology degree prepares students for an exciting future with a wide array of career fields. UF Online sociology students will have coursework focused on broad categories such as sociological theory and methods, families and gender studies, poverty and inequality, and much more. Graduates can continue their studies in law school or other graduate programs. UF Online also offers a minor in sociology for students interested in this program while pursuing other majors. For more information about the sociology major, visit the UF Online degree page.

Notes: 1. ASA, Research and Development Department, What Can I Do With a Bachelors in Sociology? A National Survey of Senior Majoring in Sociology, Spring 2005.