Not far from the tree

Mother-daughter duo form educational bond while taking COMA 103


Claire Smith

Jennifer Walters (left) and Jordan Fisher (right) share the bond of a lifetime as they experience class together.

Daniel Shahollari, Staff Writer

Public speaking can be a terrifying experience, but not for Jordan Fisher. She has always been confident speaking in front of others, but she is more than just confident.

“We always joke around the house that if Jordan tells you something, you don’t necessarily have to agree with it, but you will definitely listen to her until the end,” says Jennifer Walters, Jordan’s mother.

It was clear that Jordan was unlike most children, she had a talent for public speaking. In 2019, Jordan started college to pursue her dream to become an actress. Meanwhile, Jennifer decided to return to college during the winter semester of 2020. With some previous college experience right after she graduated high school, a degree in Business Administration is on the horizon for her.

“One night we were at home,”Jordan remembers, “I still needed 15 more credits to earn my associate degree and my mom needed a communications class for her business degree. She came up with the idea that maybe we could take the class together. My mom felt like it would make her feel better if I was in the class with her so I could help her out of her comfort zone by being in front of people. I was excited about the idea. Not everyone gets to be in the same class with a loved one and it is always nice to see a familiar face in class.” With that, they began taking COMA 103 Fundamentals of Speech together.

Jennifer admits to not being fond of speaking in front of people.

“When I asked Jordan how she would feel about us taking the class together, she was excited. I was more excited. Like Jordan said, it’s nice to see a familiar face. I was glad that she wanted to do this with me.”

While she has dreams of growing her career, pursuing education while being a mom is difficult— even if her daughter is right alongside her in class. “It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Jennifer admitted. “Being a mother and studying at the same time means that you’ll have to organize yourself to have enough time to complete your schoolwork. This means that you’ll have to keep your household and motherly duties on different schedules. I was fortunate to be able to qualify for Future for Frontliners, so it would not interfere with us financially helping Jordan with college. My children are both adults and I have more time for school now. I also want them to be proud of me. What makes it easier is having a supportive family.”

For Communication Arts professor Maryia Duffy, this is a totally new experience.

”This is the first time that I have had family members attending my class together,” Duffy says. “They have been a pleasure to have in class. They actively participate in all classes and have delivered excellent speeches. I love the energy that they bring with them.”

While the course served to prepare both for their future careers, Jordan still hopes to pursue her dream as an actress. She would like to take the jump, going even further out of her comfort zone, and start going for auditions in the hopes of finding an agent or manager.

Jennifer, meanwhile, hopes to move up in her career and to be more confident in public speaking. For Jordan, college has been

“wonderful,” and having her momthere actually made it more special.

“I consider my mom as a friend and a mom at school honestly,”Jordan says. “When we talk together about class, it feels the same as if I was talking to another friend in the class, but she can sometimes step in and be a mom when she needs to. For instance, I’ll admit there have been a few times when I would have long days and I would come to class really tired, and I would start to slowly drift off and she would nudge me to keep me awake.”

The two commute to class together, study together, hang out and have even started traveling together.

“Sometimes it might look like a competition, but it is more teamwork. We aren’t competitive with each other,” both say. “We mostly support one another more than anything. We both try to help each other, and bounce ideas off one another. Maybe you can see a bit of competition when it comes to getting our work done, but definitely we motivate each other.We both always strive to do our bestas far as grades.”

Speaking of grades, the pair happens to be very studious. Jordan boasts a 3.5 GPA and Jennifer has a 4.0. They are on this journey together chasing their dreams despite the age gap. Jennifer hopes to remind people that they are never too old to pursue their dreams.

“Honestly, I have spoken with many others who are also pursuing degrees that are my age or older and reassured them that age is not important, as long as you are pursuing a path that you are interested in.”

As of last semester, Fundamentals of Speech was the only class the pair shared, but they have no reservations about taking other classes together and hope to continue their education together.