A father’s tenacity: 52-year-old Navy vet graduates from Carey on same day as sons

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A father’s tenacity: 52-year-old Navy vet graduates from Carey on same day as sons

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A father who went back to college later in life graduated from William Carey with his two sons May 16. Ellen Ciurczak, American Staff Writer

Father’s Day came early for Reuben McCon.

The 20-year Navy veteran, 52, got his bachelor’s degree from William Carey University in Hattiesburg May 16 on the same day his two sons received their master’s degrees from Carey.

McCon’s wife — a 2014 Carey Ph.D. and nursing professor — sat on stage watching the three graduate.

The ceremony was certainly a family affair for the Ocean Springs clan.

"It’s a great accomplishment to walk with my boys," McCon said. "I’m very proud of my sons, and watching them continue their education and for me to be able to go through that too — it was exciting for me to be back in school with them."

The McCon family poses for a photo before graduation May 16 at William Carey’s Hattiesburg campus. From left, son Reubon Perez McCon, father Reubon Fitzgerald McCon, wife Angela Jupiter-McCon and son Neuman McCon.

(Photo: Special to Hattiesburg American)

McCon earned a bachelor’s in general studies with emphases in physical education and psychology. He completed his four-year degree in less than three years while working full time as a welder. He now works as a building mechanic at Carey’s Tradition campus in Biloxi.

"I’m very proud of my husband for going back after all those years and my sons for continuing," said wife Angela Jupiter-McCon, 49.

‘I thought I needed to get an education, too’

Jupiter-McCon teaches at the Tradition campus. Her sons plan to continue at Carey later, pursuing their doctorates.

Reuben McCon had enrolled in Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College about three decades ago, but after about a year he couldn’t afford it anymore. He joined the Navy and became an aviation jet mechanic.

After his stint in the military, the idea of college began to stir again. His sons were pursuing their bachelor’s, which they earned in 2017. It was during this time — fall 2016 — that Reuben McCon decided to enter college himself to be an example to his boys.

"My wife kept telling me — ‘you need to go back to school,’" he said. "I was pushing education with our older boys so much, and I thought I needed to get an education, too."

His older sons, Reuben Perez McCon, 29, and Neuman McCon, 23, had graduated high school early and chosen Carey — like their mother, who had earned her Ph.D. in nursing administration and education.

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She had been an instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College when a Carey representative came to talk about the Ph.D. program. It was exactly what she was looking for and she started in 2012.

"I had never heard of William Carey until Dr. Janet Williams came to speak," she said.

When Jupiter-McCon completed her degree program she was hired at the Tradition campus.

‘Anything is achievable’

Jupiter-McCon said she bragged to her family about the Baptist university.

"Carey instructors — they were guiding us along the way," Jupiter-McCon said. "It was special the education opportunities we had compiled with that Christian compassion."

On May 16, sons Reuben Perez McCon graduated from the Hattiesburg campus with a master’s in health administration and education, while Neuman McCon received a master’s in biomedical science.

They have both chosen careers in health care.

Father Reuben McCon, who had been attending classes at the Tradition Campus in Biloxi, asked for special permission to graduate the same day as his boys. He got to watch them get their diplomas, and then they watched him, as he was the last person to graduate that day.

"It was very meaningful — being able to see my boys walk," he said. "It was nice seeing my wife up on stage watching us receive our degrees. It was a great moment for me as a father."

The McCons have a third son who is 14 years old.

Jupiter-McCon says it’s possible her entire family may end up Carey graduates.

"Anything is achievable with the Carey family," she said.

As for Reuben McCon, he is glad he was finally able to achieve what he was forced to give up 30 years ago.

"Later on in life, I was able to pursue that goal I had," he said.

The goal was made sweeter because it was a family affair..

"I was proud to be able to do that," he said.

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