CAMDEN — On a day when many parents will beam with pride as their children accept their degrees and turn their tassels, Ashley Skala is as equally excited for her mother, Doreen Skala.
The mother-daughter team from Bellmawr will graduate together from the Rutgers–Camden College of Arts and Sciences on Monday, May 24. Doreen Skala will receive her master’s degree in history while Ashley Skala receives her bachelor’s degree in English.
“I am proud of her,” Ashley says of her mother. “She has worked very hard and deserves it.”
Doreen, who received her bachelor’s degree in history from Rutgers–Camden in 2006, remained committed to attaining her master’s degree while working full time in payroll and accounts payable for a security company.
“I think that knowing Ashley was also attending university made me want to work even harder and to do even better to show her that it was worth the hard work to be an academic success,” Doreen Skala says.
A Triton Regional High School graduate, Ashley wants to become a teacher and is also considering graduate school. Both women are looking forward to graduating from Rutgers–Camden together.
“There’s been a lot of encouragement going both ways, especially in this last semester,” Ashley Skala says.
While they never really saw each other on the Rutgers–Camden campus — Doreen had many night classes while Ashley went to school during the day — Ashley says both were dedicated to their studies at home.
“My house was always quiet because we both always had work to do,” Ashley says. “Sometimes it was easier to stay at home than go to the library.”
Doreen says she believes her dedication to her studies and commitment to research also set a precedent for Ashley.
“I tried to set an example, but not pressure her throughout her college career,” Doreen says. “I encouraged her to take courses she found interesting and she took classes that I would have found difficult. She approached each course as a challenge and gave it her all. I could not be prouder of her.”
Doreen also rose to the challenge and has been recognized for her work as a graduate student. In July, she will present her paper, Dulce with the Utile: Anglicizing through Fox Hunting in 18th Century Philadelphia, at a conference at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne in England.
The paper is about the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, the first fox hunting club in America, and how it was used as a social tool to transform its members into gentlemen to gain entry into elite Philadelphia society.
“I’m proud and excited to be able to present my research to such a distinguished panel of historians,” Doreen says. “I feel that it shows others, specifically my daughter, that hard work is recognized by academia.”
Commencement ceremonies for the Rutgers–Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, May 24 at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden. More information is online at camden.rutgers.edu.
Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse