Monday, December 24, 2001


From left, Dussy Lehua Jones and her mother, Anita Kelly, both held master's degrees yesterday following ceremonies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The light blue tassels and trim indicate their shared field, education.

Daughter, mom
make history
with UH degrees

The pair are believed to be the
first to get master's degrees
at the same ceremony

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Wearing light blue hood trimmings and matching tassels, Anita Kelly and Dussy Jones sat together yesterday during the University of Hawaii commencement exercises for advanced degrees.

But the two shared a greater bond than simply completing their degrees together. Jones was graduating with her mother.

"It's my best dream come true," said Jones, 29.

Kelly, 57, and Jones are believed to be the first mother and daughter to receive their master's degrees from the UH-Manoa at the same time, Interim Chancellor Deane Neubauer said during yesterday's ceremony at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"I told her to wait for me, we have to graduate together," Jones said. "We were really stoked."

Kelly received her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Hawaii in 1967 before launching a teaching career that took her to Lunalilo, Liholiho and Kalihi Kai elementary schools. But that career took a new direction when it came to her own children.

Kelly spent 25 years home-schooling her three daughters from kindergarten through 12th grade.

She returned to traditional teaching seven years ago at Haleiwa Elementary School and now works as a special-education teacher at Solomon Elementary School in Wahiawa. During that time she also went back to the classroom, working toward her master's degree in educational administration.

Kelly said she and her daughter received help from their adviser, Stacey Marlow, to arrange their curricula to enable them to graduate together this winter. Jones earned her master's degree in elementary education.

Both Kelly and her husband, Jonathan, who also is an educator, influenced their children to follow in their footsteps, as all of them have. Jones' sister Jahna has a bachelor's in elementary education, while sister Monty is set to obtain her bachelor's degree in physical education in spring 2002.

She is innovative and creative, Jones said of her mother, who completed the master's program in a year and a half.

Kelly, who is a Seventh-day Adventist, decided to home-school her children after reading a book on child guidance she received from a fellow church member. Jones completed her elementary education within three years.

"When they're ready, they're going to learn," her mother said.

After obtaining her high school diploma from the Christian Liberty Academy School System, a home-school program based in Illinois, Jones later attended Leeward Community College before transferring to UH-Manoa.

Jones said she plans to collaborate with her mother to write a book on her home-school experiences before returning to school for her doctorate in education.

Will her mother join her a second time?

"We'll see what happens," Kelly said. "We have to plan it together."

Ka Leo O Hawaii
University of Hawaii

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