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Vickie McBride gave birth to her son at the tender age of 13, but that did not deter her from earning her PhD–or his, for that matter.

Last August, Vickie and her son, Maurice, walked across the stage at a graduate ceremony in Minneapolis, Minnesota and were handed their doctorate degrees from Capella University, WRDW-TV Augusta 12 reports.

Given their journey, Maurice said he could not have ever imagined the day he would earn such a high academic honor. “Never in a thousand, million, trillion years [did I expect to get my PhD],” Maurice said. “The thought of becoming a doctor anyone was far fetched.”

Maurice’s awe at his own success was only outdone by his mother’s achievement.

“I never thought I would get chance to see my mother walk across the stage and then she turned around and saw me walk across the stage,” he said.

Growing up in the small town of Waynesboro, Ga., Vickie said  being a teenage parent was taboo. She remembers some of the older people in the community ”whispering” about her, but that did not stop her from continuing her education. Vickie’s mother, a retired teacher, took care of Maurice while she attended school.

“As a teenager I continued my education, Vickie said. ”(Dropping out) was never an option.”

She eventually went to college and even earned a graduate degree all while raising Maurice and three other children.

“I had to figure out how to work and how to parent and how to manage school all at the same time.” she said.

Maurice had his own rocky road to his PhD. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 and started hanging out with the wrong people. His behavior got him in a juvenile probation facility. But he said his faith helped him turn his life around.

“I picked up the bible and I started reading and I was like it all makes sense,” he said. ”I see how it actually comes to fruition. I see how I ended up here.”

Here is more on how the two decided to be mother and son PhDs:

He got his GED and then pursued a music career. He signed a record deal with Capital Records, but he never stopped his education. It was something that was instilled in him by his mother and grandmother.

“As a recording artist I also attended school online,” said Maurice.

He kept going after he left the music world. He went on to graduate school, becoming a professor at Paine College and then one day he called his mom.

“I said ‘hey I think I’m gonna get my PhD. You wanna do this with me?’ ‘No that’s okay. You bumped your head, but you can go ahead and you can do it. I’m done with school’,” he recalled.

After talking it over, they decided to do it together. Vickie graduated with her PhD in K-12 Education and Maurice in Organizational Management from Capella University.

“I didn’t let my situation define who I was. I defined my situation. I looked at my situation and I told situation this is where we are going and this is what we are doing,” said Vickie.

A proud day for both a mother and a son.

“I was so proud of him because I knew where he had come from,” said Vickie.

“This is who she really is despite what she’s been through,” said Maurice. “This is how I’ve always seen her and now I’m like ‘hey look this is her’ with the cape and the supermommy uniform.”

And they want their story to be a lesson to those struggling now.

Maurice wants his mother to write a book about their life story and has even asked her to go for a law degree. She kindly said she’d sit that one out and be in the audience for that graduation.

But Vickie does has some encouraging words for those who think their life’s circumstances are too much to overcome.

“For those who have gone through [tough situations],” Vickie said. “You can be successful. You can be anything. You can do anything once you make up your mind that that is what you want to do. Set a goal and go for it.”