Mother, son to receive diplomas during JMU graduation

JMU News

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Friday will be doubly exciting for a Chesapeake family who will celebrate two graduations. 

LouAnn Leonard will walk across the stage first during the 1:30 p.m. ceremony for the College of Education, the School of Professional and Continuing Education, and University Studies. Son Bryce will follow during the College of Business commencement at 4:30 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place at the Atlantic Union Bank Center. 

“I never thought I would be graduating from a major university and can’t wait to say I am a JMU alumna,” said LouAnn, who is receiving a bachelor’s degree in Individualized Study with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. 

LouAnn said she taught for several years in the private sector before going to Tidewater Community College for an associate’s degree. Then she decided to keep going. 

“I talked to several colleges about transferring,” she said. “When I talked to JMU, they told me that all my classes would transfer. That was a plus. However, what really sold me was how everyone I talked to at JMU was so enthusiastic, encouraging and took the time to explain everything to me.” 

Although LouAnn’s classes were online, she felt like she was getting a real college experience. “I figured I would do my work and that was it,” she said. “Boy was I wrong. I was amazed not only by the support I received but also the feeling of being included. I mean let's face it, I am an older college student. Everyone I have talked to has made me feel like a true part of the JMU family.” 

Bryce will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Sport and Recreation Management and a minor in Business. 

“I have been very fortunate to have the support that I’ve had during my college experience, and once I found out my mom was enrolling in JMU, I knew I would have someone that truly understood what I was going through,” Bryce said. “My mom and I have grown so much closer through this experience, and I cannot be more thankful for that.” 

In addition to her family, LouAnn said she will be celebrating Friday with some friends she made through those online courses.    

“We have never met in person. I know there will be lots of hugs during graduation as we have been on this journey together and become a major part of each other’s lives.” 


Contact: Eric Gorton, 


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Published: Thursday, May 9, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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