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Stories @ TCC

It’s a Family Affair

By Sandra Wilson, TCC English instructor

Giovonina Quan studies with daughter Britni

It’s one of the worst scenarios for most college students: an 8 a.m. English class on a Monday morning. Like all of TCC, the Chesapeake Campus is a commuter campus, so many of the arriving students have been stuck in traffic on I-64, in the Downtown Tunnel or on the High-Rise Bridge, to name just a few snarls.

Not a problem for Giovonina Quan, a former stay-at-home mom for 10 years with two sons and a daughter, who also works part time as a certified medical assistant. Most mornings she’s already seated by 7:30 and has her computer up and running to check her essay one last time before turning it in.

As she chats softly with a fellow early bird, in bounds another TCC student – her daughter, Britni, a 2007 graduate of Oscar Smith High School. Britni’s hair is pulled up into a quick ponytail and she’s clad in the student uniform: jeans and t-shirt. She rolls a chair next to Mom and they discuss where they’ll go for lunch: should they ride back home together or grab a sub on campus? As the instructor walks in, Britni, petite and lightning fast, dashes off to her own class just down the hall.

The Quans consist of Mom, Dad and kids – a modern nuclear family. Giovonina rarely missed any of her daughter’s four years of cheering for high school football games, and her children are often a subject for her English 111 journal.

When Britni was in high school, Giovonina used to joke about not wanting her to leave home when the time for college arrived. “I’m going with you,” she warned. “We can be dorm mates and go to chow hall together,” she’d tell Britni routinely. When the day finally did arrive, Britni surprised her mom by choosing to stay close to home. The wheels began to turn for Giovonina.

This was as good a time as any to go back to school and make her dream of becoming a registered nurse a reality. Hey, they really could be dorm mates and go to chow hall together. Now, mother and daughter share the same anatomy and physiology lab and instructor, and, yes, they’re lab partners. They study together and even make the same grades. Britni plans to pursue a four-year degree in biology, probably at Hampton University, while Giovonina will obtain an associate degree in nursing at TCC.

What could be next for the Giovonina women? Maybe a mother/daughter medical team? Time and experience will tell, as they launch from their TCC beginning.