CSM: It’s All in the Family

Tomika Strong and her son Kenny Strong have their first semester at CSM under their belt. The mom and son team attend CSM together, a shared experience that has strengthened family ties and is bringing both of them closer to their goals.
Tomika Strong and her son Kenny arrive together on the first day of the fall semester.

Mother and Son Pursue Education Goals Together

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) offers a variety of degree and certificate programs from four campuses located strategically through the region, allowing CSM students of all ages to stay local and close to family while saving money as they pursue their education goals.

The Strong family, of Waldorf, is taking advantage of the CSM option two times over, with both the mother and son — Tomika Strong, 39, and Kenny Strong, 19 — attending CSM together, a shared experience that has strengthened family ties and is bringing both of them closer to their goals.

“I just recently retired from the Air Force … and I have an associate degree in logistic transportation,” Tomika said. But she needs a different degree for a desired career change, so she is using this time after retirement to focus being a full-time student as she pursues an associate of science degree at CSM. Her goal is to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in family science from the University of Maryland, College Park. “It is much easier going to school now than it was while I was in the military,” she said.

Tomika started at CSM with four classes this fall semester and has already registered for four classes this spring as well.

Her son Kenny is also taking four classes at CSM this fall as he pursues an associate degree in computer science. “My career goal is to become a video game designer/tester,” he said.

While mother and son don’t take any classes together and don’t even drive into campus together, they agreed that they both appreciate the shared experience of college life.

“It is awesome to be able to see him each day and to have conversation about what is going in our classes,” Tomika said. “I think it is cool that we attend the same college. I feel like we have more in common now, and he has a better understanding of what I was going through by taking classes while I in was in the military. This is his first semester of college, and he is doing so well. I am very proud of his dedication to his education.”

“Attending college with my mom is good,” Kenny said.

While mother and son don’t study together because they are in different programs, they are learning a lot about each watching how each approach their studies. Tomika notes that Kenny just graduated from high school in 2017, making him more used to the challenges of projects, papers and exams. Her last class, meanwhile, was in 2014.

“I forgot what it was like to be in class on a campus,” Tomika said. “Most of the classes I have taken [in the military] were always online. It is really cool to participate in class with other students at CSM.”

“The thing I most benefit from while attending CSM is making friends and talking and interacting about things we like and what we can relate to,” Kenny said.

The Strong family has a third member in college. Lewis Strong, Tomika’s husband, is a full-time student at the University of Maryland, College Park. The family also includes high school students Kayla, 16, and Zeynel, 15.

CSM enhances lives and strengthens the economic vitality of a diverse and changing region by providing affordable postsecondary education, workforce development and cultural and personal enrichment opportunities. To learn how to get started at CSM, visit https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/not-sure/.

For information on CSM’s Veteran and Military Support Services, visit www.csmd.edu/student-services/veteran-military-support-services/.

About CSM

During 2018, the College of Southern Maryland celebrates its 60th anniversary. Established as part of the continuing expansion of the community college in America, Charles County Junior College opened Sept. 17, 1958. The La Plata Campus was established at its present location in 1968, with college services expanding to St. Mary’s County in 1978 and Calvert County in 1980. For information about the college’s history, visit http://news.csmd.edu/60th/.

Today, CSM is a regionally accredited community college that provides programs and services with a special focus on local workforce development to maintain and grow a healthy economy and community. CSM serves more than 24,000 credit and continuing education students at its campuses located in Hughesville, La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick, as well as a Higher Education Center shared with University of Maryland University College in Waldorf and a Center for Transportation Training in La Plata. For information about CSM, call 301-934-7765 or visit www.csmd.edu.