Mother, daughter graduating together

By Douglas Esser
The dining room table at the Sandhu home in Bothell is available again for dining. The books and laptops that Devi and her daughter Manveer spread across their “command central” have been cleared, now that both are graduating.

Manveer Sandhu, left, and mother Devi Sandhu (Kristian Gorman photo)

Manveer, 21, completed her bachelor’s in law, economics and public policy in December in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. She plans to attend law school next year, interested in a career in international business law and human rights.

Devi, 44, finished her master’s in education in March and already is applying what she learned to her job with the University’s own Office of Organizational Excellence and Human Resources.

Mother and daughter will walk with classmates at the University of Washington Bothell commencement, with double the usual sense of family pride.

Manveer made a smooth transfer to UW Bothell from Cascadia College for her final two years at a campus that was not only convenient to home but also filled her education goals.

“I really liked the small class sizes. I liked being able to go to my professors and get extra advice or help on assignments,” she says. “That was really a big draw.”

Manveer also liked the cross-discipline approach in IAS and “not being stuck in one mindset when you learn about something.” Two instructors who were especially generous with their time were Camille Walsh and Alka Kurian, Manveer says.

She’s been working at the Snohomish County prosecutor’s office since February, first as an intern and now as a legal assistant.

Convenience also was a factor for her mother, Devi, who took evening classes after work. There were some long days, but, “the commute was not very long from work to school,” she laughs.

Devi plans to grow her career in human resources and found that the requirements for her master’s was a good fit for the changes back at the office.

“I looked at the classes that were available, and the type of classes that the Master of Education offered were what I was interested in -- things like organizational reform and change,” she says.

Professors Jane Van Galen and Wayne Au were especially helpful, she says.

Devi, who came from India with her family when she was 8, was the first to start college, but the last of four siblings to graduate. Her journey is similar to that of many students at UW Bothell.

“I had a huge gap. I got my bachelor’s 17 years after I got my associate’s,” Devi said. “A whole bunch of life happened, including children, like this one sitting right here with me.”

Devi had support and encouragement from her husband, from Manveer and a younger teenage son for the adjustments to student life. Devi found herself commuting at times with her daughter, meeting her at a food truck for lunch and sharing study time at the dining room table.

“We made a command central,” Devi says. “We took half each -- where we had our books, our laptops, our pens, our highlighters and sticky notes for studying.”

“It was nice to just have that spot,” Devi says. “We just recently cleared that spot.”

Mother and daughter never had a class together, although they ended up having several classmates in common.

“’I know your mom. I know your daughter.’ We get that a lot,” they said.