All in the Family

This past weekend, Aaron Tanyhill ’14 and his mom, Holly Tanyhill ’14, graduated from Rollins with their bachelor’s degrees.

It is safe to say that many high school graduates cannot wait to go to college and live away from home—and their parents. There’s the promise of newfound freedom and independence.

That was not the case for Aaron Tanyhill ’14 who graduated this weekend from Rollins—along with his mom, Holly. While attending the College of Arts & Sciences, Aaron majored in critical media and cultural studies, while Holly attended the Hamilton Holt School, where she majored in communication studies.

However, Rollins has been a part of the Tanyhill family for a decade now. Aaron’s oldest sister, Michelle Tanyhill ’08, started classes in 2004, and his sister Sarah Tanyhill graduated in 2010—the same year Aaron started at Rollins. Holly’s other two children, Eric and Raven, are currently Holt students.

Needless to say, the Tanyhills are very much a Rollins family.

When asked how he feels about attending college with his mom, Aaron had nothing but wonderful things to say. “I think it’s really cool,” he says. “I can’t be embarrassed. Everyone thinks my mom is so nice.”

Aaron had already been at Rollins for two years before Holly decided to become the first Holt student in the Tanyhill family. Previously a student at Valencia College, Holly was encouraged by Connie Holt, director of student services at the Hamilton Holt School, to consider Rollins. “I met Connie Holt at Valencia College,” Holly says. “I told her that my daughters had graduated from Rollins and that my son was currently a student there, and she told me I could go there too. She was the one who made me realize I could graduate from Rollins just like my children.”

Always putting family first, Holly made sure transferring to Rollins was okay with Aaron. “As a matter of a fact, I asked him first how he felt about me going to the same school, and he said that would be great. He was very excited and supportive.”

The rest is history.

Over their respective college careers, both Aaron and Holly have made an impact on campus. Aaron is a proud member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, vice president of traditions for R-Pride, and heavily involved with the Office of Community Engagement, winning the community engagement award at last month’s awards ceremony. During her two years at Rollins, Holly has impressively taken advantage of numerous opportunities. She has worked for two student publications, The Sandspur and The Independent; was the assistant editor of the Holt Connections magazine; worked as a student assistant for the Holt school; and hosts a weekly radio show on WPRK titled “Back to Reality,” which airs every Saturday night and features old-school classics. She was also chosen to present her social venture idea or “commitment to action” at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative University. Her initiative, Push It to Thirty, will provide information and support, enrollment assistance, and guidance through graduation for low-income individuals, aged 25 and older. The name refers to the initiative’s goal of raising the degree completion rate to 30 percent in underserved communities, where it’s currently around 9 percent.

Now that their time at Rollins has come to an end, Aaron and Holly plan to attend law school, but not the same one. Holly plans to attend Florida A&M University College of Law, and Aaron hopes to move to California to pursue law on the west coast. “I will always be a life-long learner because of Rollins,” Aaron says. “Rollins has inspired me to be a better man, and I will really miss the journey.”

At the conclusion of their Rollins journey, they both participated in commencement: Holly on Saturday, May 10, and Aaron on Sunday, May 11.

“Graduation is extra special this year,” Holly says. “I am the first of my mother’s children to receive her bachelor’s, and I graduated the same weekend as my son. It is a very special Mother’s Day weekend.”

“I am really excited for graduation,” Aaron says. “And I didn’t have to get my mom a Mother’s Day present this year! Happy Mother’s Day, mom—I graduated college!”