Together, husband and wife get degrees at College of Notre Dame

Andrew Newton was jealous when his mom and dad tried on their graduation caps and gowns.

“When is it my turn?” asked the 9-year-old fourth-grader at Our Lady of Victory School, Arbutus, who is more than a dozen years away from his own college graduation.

Andrew’s parents, Jay and Julie Newton, graduated simultaneously May 24 from College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Wearing a black velvet mortarboard atop her black graduation gown, Mrs. Newton accepted a Master of Arts in management after attending the college’s Graduate Studies program part time while working full time. Draped around her neck were purple and yellow cords, symbolic of the Delta Mu Delta academic honor society.

Her husband almost matched. His black mortarboard was made of a different material, and his gown was adorned with blue and yellow cords to symbolize the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Mr. Newton attended the Weekend College to earn a Bachelor of Arts in human services.

They enrolled after being attracted to Notre Dame’s “family friendly” way and “relied on each other to get through this,” said Mr. Newton. While one was home, the other attended class. Andrew usually did not require a baby sitter.

During the graduation ceremony, Mr. Newton had the honor of presenting a check on behalf of his class to the college’s president, Dr. Mary Pat Seurkamp.

Graduation seemed to be a welcome relief to the couple. No more nights of not seeing each other as they carried opposite class schedules. No more working in different rooms of their Catonsville house on two separate laptops to write papers, and gone are the late-night cups of coffee in an attempt to stay awake while studying.

“But we never felt like it was a sacrifice of our family,” said the mild-mannered Mr. Newton, 31, who stayed active as Andrew’s lacrosse and soccer coach. “And we made it to church – all three of us – every weekend.”

The Newtons, who converted to Catholicism five years ago, are parishioners of Our Lady of Victory. Together they teach religious education to primary grades, and Andrew helps in the classroom.

Mrs. Newton, a Baltimorean, is a full-time senior accountant at the University of Baltimore. Mr. Newton, a native of Alaska, is a rehabilitation counselor at Key Point Health Services in its community outreach program.

“I’ve been in school so long, I’m not sure how it will feel not having a paper to write,” admitted Mrs. Newton as she neatly folded her graduate’s hood. The 31-year-old student had attended Notre Dame in the mid-1990s, but she put studies on hold to move around the country with her husband, who was in U.S. Army. They married in 1997.

Although they were never in the same class and only had one professor in common, what the couple did share was a high grade point average: his at 3.5 averaging three classes per semester and hers at 3.98 averaging two classes per semester.

“Coming here made everything full circle,” said Mrs. Newton. “Now everything just feels right.”

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.