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MERRIAM, Kan. — It’s celebration time for Barbara Kelly and her two sons, Jacob and Luke Burkholder. All three will graduate from college this semester.

“It’s something we can share and relate to at the same time,” Luke Burkholder said.

Kelly walked across the stage last month, with a Masters degree from Spring Arbor University, and is now a certified family nurse practitioner.

“I never dreamed that when I got started, we’d graduate within weeks of each other,” Kelly said.

Both Jacob and Luke will graduate this Saturday from Kansas State University. Jacob will receive his diploma in secondary education and Luke in sociology and criminology.

“It’s really exciting. Especially because all three of us are going into a public service field,” Jacob Burkholder said.

Kelly was already a NICU nurse at St. Lukes South Hospital for nearly two decades, but says it was always a dream to go back to school. It was her boys who inspired her to take the plunge.

“Once they had gone off to college, they were like ‘mom, you can’t use us as an excuse anymore.’ So I jumped on the bandwagon and did,” Kelly said.

This proved to be a true bonding experience for the bunch.

“They’d send me a paper and ‘d proof read it for them. They’d proof read some of my papers. Every once in a while, I’d be complaining and they’d be like ‘yep, mom. We get it.'” Kelly said.

They may have all started their journeys at different times, but are glad they’re crossing the finish line together.

Jacob already has a teaching job lined up with the Kansas City, Kansas School District for next year. Luke hopes to become a police officer with a local department.