SNHU Spotlight: Michael and Taria Richards, Raising 5 Children and Earning Their Degrees Together
Michael and Taria Richards '23 didn’t take a straight path to their college degrees. But they credit a lot of patience, communication and hard work to becoming the first people in their families to earn their bachelor’s degrees at Southern New Hampshire University’s 2023 Commencement.
Michael, who earned his bachelor’s in computer science with a concentration in software engineering began his classes in 2019. Tara, who earned her bachelor’s in psychology, joined him in 2022. With a pair of diplomas in hand, the couple had more to celebrate — new jobs.
Shortly before traveling to New Hampshire from their home in Oklahoma, Michael learned he had been hired by a company in Oklahoma City. Tara got a call that she, too, had been chosen for a position working for the state of Oklahoma shortly after arriving in New Hampshire.
“I worked for 15 years in the steel industry but now I get to completely change my career and go do something I’m passionate about and not just make a living,” Michael said.
Michael and Tara both dropped out of high school and later earned their GEDs. Being first generation college graduates was important to them, as was showing their children the importance of hard work and what is still possible despite the choices made before.
“As I graduate, I want to show my kids, as cliché as it is, that anything is possible,” Michael said. “Now we’ve turned around and come back, and being able to show them that regardless of the decisions you make early in life, you can still turn everything around. You can come back. You can make better choices and better decisions.”
“We’re both finally seeing where we want to go,” she said. “I can say I’m not the same person I was two years ago. Going for my degree in psychology has changed that.”
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Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter @JoeCo2323.
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