Antioch Man and His Mother Overcome Obstacles and Graduate Together with Bachelor’s Degrees

University of Phoenix celebrates graduation of students in the Bay Area

University of Phoenix Bay Area Campus will commemorate the graduation of more than 1,800 students earning associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees with a ceremony at HP Pavilion in San Jose on July 21 at 10:00 a.m. Nearly 1,000 of those students will walk in the ceremony, including Norma Watson and Will Pearsall, a mother and son from Pleasant Hill and Antioch, respectively. Both will graduate and walk across the stage together, each with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

“I would like to congratulate Norma Watson, Will Pearsall and the entire class of 2012. Every student graduating has succeeded because of their hard work and determination, and we are incredibly proud of them,” said University of Phoenix Bay Area Campus Vice President, Stacy McAfee. “Education in and of itself is not the end goal, but the means to achieve a larger life goal where graduates can be successful and do even more to give back to their communities.”

Watson, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration in small business management and entrepreneurship, chose to return to school at a critical time in her life; after her husband of 18 years passed away. She coped with her loss by tackling challenges posed in the classroom, and thanks to the support of her son, who she also took several classes with, Watson feels she has developed the skills and confidence to begin the next chapter of her life. For more than 25 years, she has owned a small business, a beauty salon, and with her bachelor’s degree Watson plans to take the next steps to expand her business.

“After the passing of my husband, I needed to make a positive change in my life. Returning to school was just what I needed,” said Watson. “My education at University of Phoenix taught me the practical skills that will make me a better businesswoman and manager. I am incredibly proud to graduate this weekend, and for our family it has an added special meaning since Will and I will walk together. This experience has truly changed my life, both personally and professionally, for the better.”

Pearsall, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in management, is continuing higher education goals that he had temporarily put on hold. A father to four daughters, with another on the way, Pearsall made the decision to return to school once he realized a bachelor’s degree could open doors that professional experience alone could not. Currently a software salesman, Pearsall hopes to manage an emerging technology company, a dream that only recently become a possibility.

“Returning to school was something I always wanted to do, but never thought was possible,” said Pearsall. “University of Phoenix offered a flexible schedule, but also challenged me every step of the way. Obtaining my degree has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life, and knowing that my mom and I did this together, even though we had different goals, will undoubtedly open doors for both of us.”

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning can help students pursue personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit

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