On May 21, a family experience will come full circle when Tiara and Tonya Tart graduate from Bowie State University, a feat their father already completed.

“It’s very exciting,” Tonya, 38, said. “I’m 16 years older than Tiara, so this is something I don’t think either one of us ever thought about. It wasn’t until the end of our programs that we realized we had the possibility of graduating at the same time.”

Tonya will be receiving a master’s in public administration with a concentration in public policy management while Tiara will be receiving her bachelor’s in communications with a concentration in public relations.

They’ve both endured struggles being students with real world issues. Tiara, who has a 6-year-old daughter, has shown remarkable resiliency in working towards this goal.

“I worked two full-time jobs and I was a full-time student,” Tiara said. “Most of my semesters I would take 18 credits so I could graduate on time. I had a lot of help from my parents and I would let my professors know if I ever had to leave class. I think they saw that I was trying to do something with my life.”

One of Tiara’s professors fully concurs with that assessment. Otis Thomas, Ph.D., chair of the Bowie State’s Department of Communications, raved about Tiara as a student.

“Tiara is resilient, shows great dedication, focus and is a hard worker,” Thomas said. “She’s simply a survivor.”

Though Thomas may be proud of Tiara, no one will be filled with more pride during the ceremony than Dalton Tart, the sisters’ father.

Mr. Tart, who is currently a senior analyst with the Department of Treasury, is overjoyed with his early Father’s Day gift.

“I’m extremely proud. I think it’s an exceptional task that each of them have completed,” Dalton said. “I was just talking with a co-worker and I was saying maybe this can be the beginning of Tart tradition. Maybe my granddaughter will say, ‘Hey, I think I like that Bowie State.’”

University officials said they are hoping this signals a budding awareness about the school. They already say Bowie State is one of the best kept secrets in the area. Now, they want to let everyone in on it.

“I think what this says to all of us is that the university still continues to be relevant as a HBCU and have multiple generations see the value in having a Bowie State education,” said Provost Karen Johnson Shaheed. “Obviously, these young women had choices, but the fact that their father had such an experience and that it influenced their choice is something that we celebrate.

“This is really gratifying for all the faculty and staff who work really hard to make sure students have a great experience.”