Mother, daughter graduate from UW Madison with bachelor's, master's degrees

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MADISON, Wis. (WISC) -- A mother-and-daughter duo celebrated graduation from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, in unique fashion Saturday.

Shelby and Stephanie Brandsma, of Beaver Dam, earned a master's and bachelor's degree, respectively, from the School of Social Work.

"I'm excited for both of us," Shelby Brandsma said. "But it's been important to me to not steal her thunder because this is a big day for her."

Stephanie Brandsma says while most students wouldn't necessarily want to be in classes with their mom, she saw it as an opportunity to learn from a professional.
"Most of my experience has been people telling me I'm crazy for wanting to be a social worker," Stephanie Brandsma said. "I'll say, 'Well, my mom's a social worker, so I know what "'m getting myself into.'"

After earning her bachelor's degree from Marian University in 1996, Shelby Brandsma said she was inspired to go back to school and earn her master's while watching her son graduate from UW Madison in 2015.
"Katie Couric was the speaker that year," she said. "She talked about following your passions and dreams. I made the decision sitting in Camp Randall that I was going to school."

Throughout the process, Stephanie Brandsma says she's found inspiration from her mom.

"I would like to point out that she's the better student," she said.

And while the two are now done with school, Stephanie Brandsma said her mom has inspired her to pursue a master's degree of her own.

"She really went out on a limb and dared to come back to school," she said. "I was just really proud of her for trying."