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May 17, 2006
Contact: Mike Krings, University Relations, (785) 864-8860.

Graduation stories: Mother, daughter take different routes but will walk down hill together

Pat and Toni Argueta

Pat and Toni Argueta

LAWRENCE — As the old saying goes, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. That’s true for a mother-daughter duo graduating from the University of Kansas this semester, even though they took drastically different approaches to earn their walk down the hill.

Pat Argueta, an accountant in the office of the University Registrar for more than 20 years, labored for nearly a dozen years through the tuition assistance program to earn her bachelor’s degree. Her daughter, Toni Argueta, took the traditional route and enrolled at KU right out of high school and is earning her pharmacy degree. As luck would have it, they’re graduating in the same semester and plan to take the traditional walk down the hill together.

“I am walking with the pharmacy students. I might go buy a green tassel if I have to,” Pat Argueta said, referring to pharmacy students’ traditional graduation garb.

As an employee of the university, Pat was eligible for the program that provides tuition assistance to employees who take classes. She took her first class in 1986 and has been enrolled steadily since 1998.

Though commencement is this month, the academic end has not arrived yet. Toni will take her board exams next month to become a certified pharmacist, and Pat has applied for the master’s of public administration program.

“She loves school. I don’t think she’ll ever stop,” Toni said of her mother with a laugh.

Though it took Pat more than 20 semesters and almost 20 years to earn her bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in sociology, she was determined to finish.

“I figured if some of these kids can do it, I could do it. So I just pushed myself. And (the tuition assistance program) was a great opportunity,” Pat said.

Having a family member enrolled at the same university helped both through their academic careers. They took two classes together and held plenty of late night study sessions at the library and at home, where Toni has lived throughout. Other students enjoyed the family atmosphere as well.

“She was like a second mother to a lot of my friends,” Toni said of her mother. “My family has taken care of a lot of kids who were homesick.”

Pat and Toni Argueta make up only half of the family’s history at KU. Pat’s husband went to KU, and their son, Rio, is a sophomore and was recently accepted to the architecture program.

“We were joking that I might graduate with him with my master’s,” Pat said.

The elder Argueta was quick to thank Cindy Derritt, university registrar, and Rich Morrell, the former registrar, and sing the praises of the tuition assistance program for her success.

“I think it’s a great program, and anyone who has an interest in learning should do it.”

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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