Skip to main content

SNHU Spotlight: Michael and Taria Richards, Raising 5 Children and Earning Their Degrees Together

Michael and Taria Richards holding their diplomas at the SNHU graduationMichael 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.”  

Tara said she wants to continue her educational journey and earn her master’s degree and eventually become a therapist.

“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.”  

A degree can change your life. Choose your program from 200+ SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.

Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter @JoeCo2323.

Explore more content like this article

A teacher shows students what STEM means in education

What Does STEM Mean in Education?

Let’s start with a basic question: Exactly what does STEM mean? It's a term many are familiar with, but don’t necessarily understand. STEM is a common abbreviation for four closely connected areas of study: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
A woman in a STEM profession, holding a test tube and wearing safety goggles.

You Belong Here: Join the Growing Group of Women in STEM

From Grace Hopper, an early pioneer in computer programming, to Katherine Johnson’s contributions as a space scientist, women have been proving their value to the STEM fields for years and years. While there isn’t one straight pathway into STEM, there are some general strategies that will help.
A woman sitting at a desktop working on information security

What is Information Security? Why it’s Important, Job Outlook and More

There are many ways you can protect your private information from outside sources. A few of these include two-factor authentication, user permissions and firewalls. Due to the widespread usage of technology, the need for protection from security threats has been continuously growing.

About Southern New Hampshire University

Two students walking in front of Monadnock Hall

SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.