Amy Haines, a long-time UA employee, and her son Ethan started their degree journeys at very different times, but they will pull off a feat even they didn’t know was possible when both earn their master’s degrees during UA’s Aug. 6 graduation.
“Education was something that was always very important to our family, especially my mother,” said Amy. Amy’s parents will be in town to see her and Ethan cross the stage. “My brother has his master’s degree as well so my parents will get to see both of their children earn their master’s.”
Amy’s and Ethan’s path to The University of Alabama was a little unusual — it came by way of the University of Georgia. “I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and right after high school graduation my parents moved to Athens for their jobs,” Amy said. “I stayed at home and attended the College of Charleston for a year and then moved to Athens, too.”
Amy enrolled at UGA because she wanted to ensure a good life for herself and her newborn son. “I was a single mother and I didn’t want to become a statistic,” she explained emotionally. “I didn’t want (Ethan) to be a statistic either. He didn’t deserve that.” So Amy went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in child and family development while also working at UGA. She was raising her son, attending classes and working full time, but it was all possible through the love and support of her family.
When Ethan was 10 years old, mother and son headed to Tuscaloosa. “I received a great opportunity to come work at The University of Alabama. I initially worked in Student Account Services, but now work for Transportation Services as the associate director of parking,” Amy said.
Ethan eventually earned his bachelor’s in kinesiology from UA and almost immediately began working on his master’s in sports administration. A lifelong baseball player, he’s held coaching and student managerial positions with the likes of The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa Academy and various internships. He’s seeking a job with schools across the country. “I’ve just always wanted be a college baseball coach or helping the team in some way,” he said. Amy proudly added, “If he can get his foot in the door, he’ll knock their socks off.”
Amy’s mission for her master’s hasn’t always been easy, but she’s always been encouraged not to give up, even when it felt like she should. “Ethan and I always encouraged each other,” she said. “You know, working full time and really only able to take one class a semester, I would often think ‘I can’t do this,’ but Ethan wouldn’t let me do that.”
Ethan added that the encouragement goes both ways. “I was interning with the Cape Cod league last summer and was so tempted to just stay with them, but Mom said, ‘You need to finish. You’re so close you can do this and get your master’s.’”
Since Amy started working on her Master of Science in Human Environmental Sciences with a focus in negotiation and conflict resolution much earlier than Ethan began his master’s studies, they never really saw this day coming.
“It was completely by accident that we would get to graduate at the same time,“ she said. “Last spring, we were talking about when Ethan would be finishing up and I thought he would be done in December or May, but he said, ‘No, Mom, I’ll be done in time to walk in August’ and it hit us that we would get to walk on the same day. I couldn’t believe it.”
While they both recognize this feat alone is something to celebrate, it’s not lost on Amy that it is meaningful in other ways as well. “For me, earning my master’s was a goal because it’s something that is all yours. It’s something that no one can ever take away from you.”
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.