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Southern University father and daughter to graduate together

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BATON ROUGE - As Southern University prepares for its Friday, May 14 Spring commencement ceremony, the accomplishments of the graduating class are a source of inspiration to many in Baton Rouge.

Among the achievers are two graduates who serve as an outstanding symbol of unity and hope to the community.   

Dr. Christopher Rogers and his daughter Sariah Rogers, both Southern University students, have endured a challenging semester side-by-side.

Now, the father-daughter duo eagerly awaits the culmination of their efforts, the honor of graduating side-by-side from Southern University.

"I feel honored to be graduating with my daughter... really it's two fold, I'll be going in it as a parent, but also as a student myself," Dr. Rogers told WBRZ's Rae'ven Jackson.

Friday will mark his fourth degree from Southern, this one a Ph.D. in urban forestry and natural resources.

While he takes an interest in the natural world, his daughter has pursued her affinity for numbers. On Friday, Sariah will obtain her first diploma from the University, a Bachelor of Science in accounting. 

"I'm grateful because even during COVID, I get to graduate with my class. The class that came in, it's awesome," Sariah told WBRZ.

Throughout a year of COVID-triggered isolation that separated many family members, the two Rogers were able to carry out their educational careers alongside each other, even riding together to campus.

Instead of allowing themselves to take this for granted, both father and daughter are appreciative of each other's support. 

Dr. Rogers recalled one of the many "little moments" of support he provided to shore up Sariah's endurance during a difficult semester. 

"Several times I was walking across the campus, you know, doing my day-to-day activities, and I would see her walking in between classes and I'd pull my cell phone out, stop and take a picture." Dr. Rogers said. "Like, 'You On It.'"

Sariah appreciated the humorous captioned photos, in addition to the moments when she was able to show her support of her father.  

"When he was presenting his dissertation, I was in on the call and it was just so beautiful to see all of his hard work presented to the panel," she said.

Their bond is one of deep friendship, and throughout their studies at Southern, they've enjoyed numerous opportunities to simply hang out and chat.

"We were friends. I mean, I'm not embarrassed to say that this is my father. And yes, we used to catch 'Red Bean Monday,' together, we used to get fish together," Sariah said.

Due to her father's expertise in all matters pertaining to the great outdoors, the two have a garden that they've been tending to side-by-side. 

And as the two friends nurture each plant, they can't help but see the garden as a symbol of something more, something that relates to their bond.

"We have a garden full of cabbage, onion, green onion, tomatoes. We started it together like we started our degrees. You constantly have to water it, nurture it, and watch it grow just like out relationship."

Click here for more information on Southern University's 2021 Spring Commencement. 

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