Education key in mother-daughter bond

Karen Barbosa, senior criminal justice major, and her daughter, Whitney, freshman international busisness major, study together in the Spiva Library.

Karen Barbosa, senior criminal justice major, and her daughter, Whitney, freshman international busisness major, study together in the Spiva Library.

Mothers and daughters learn and grow from each another in the home, but how often do they learn and grow together at a university?

Karen Barbosa, senior criminal justice major, and her daughter, Whitney Barbosa, freshman international business major, both attend Missouri Southern. As of last fall, the Barbosas have become fellow classmates.

“We’re each other’s support,” Karen said.

As a senior, Karen is able to help and mentor Whitney. Karen says studying for college classes is different than preparing for high school classes, but in some cases the mother is learning from her daughter.

“There are kids out there that actually do want to learn and do things,” Karen said.

Between her husband, and three children at home, Karen Barbosa sometimes runs into some issues. One problem for Karen is being able to attend her 11-year-old son’s activities along with working at the Carthage Wal-Mart and studying for classes.

“Trying to keep up with all of his activities is very difficult,” she said. “But it’s the norm to them, they don’t know any different.”

Another issue for the pair is when Karen’s study schedule collides with Whitney’s social life.

“[Whitney] always has friends coming over to the house and it’s hard studying through that,” Karen said. “I’ve actually gone out to the truck to read before. I can’t stand noise.”

One time, one of Whitney’s friends on campus saw Karen and made the wrong assumption.

“One of [Whitney’s] friends forgot I was here, and she thought I was following her around at school,” Karen said. “I’m not that protective.”

Regardless of the issues their family has encountered, Karen says the experience of going to school with her daughter has had a positive effect on the family. Her husband, who has in the past had moved the family across the country due to his military job, is supporting Karen in her education pursuit. Whitney sees herself in a new light, which is more involved with her siblings.

“I think I’m a pretty good role model,” she said. Within a year, Karen says she will be the first one in the family to earn a degree, which makes Whitney feel good that her mother is starting a tradition.

“She can finally do something she wants to do,” Whitney said.

Mother and daughter are continuing to plan things they would like to do. Whitney is still searching for the right major, but knows she wants to travel and take advantage of the study abroad program.

“I’m interested in not being in one place, not being in office work, I like hands-on things and getting out there,” she said. “I want to see everywhere. It’s hard to find one specific thing, but I’ll know when I get there.”

As for Karen, her decision to be a criminal justice major came to her in the Wal-Mart parking lot one night after work. Karen was awarded for her quick thinking by the Carthage Police Department.

“A guy took some lady’s purse and I went after him,” she said. “I saw them across the parking lot, and I thought ‘she’s not going to catch him,’ so I chased him down in my truck.

“It was an adrenaline rush. After that, I knew that’s what I wanted.”

The Barbosas have lived in Carthage for seven years, and plan to stay until Karen receives her diploma.

“I feel comfortable here,” Karen said. “I like all the professors.”

Whitney said even though Carthage is not the most eventful town, she enjoys University life.

“I like the fact that my teachers can remember me,” Whitney said. “I can get one-on-one time with them or just e-mail them and the study abroad thing is pretty cool too.”