May 18, 2017 – Monica O’Hearn (G’16) will receive her diploma tomorrow to the cheers of her mother, Olga, and will return that applause when her mother receives her own master’s degree from Georgetown later that day.
“It’s really exciting to walk at the same time as my mom,” says the daughter, who will receive her master’s degree in democracy and governance from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Friday morning.
Olga O’Hearn (G'17) will receive her master’s degree in human resources management from the School of Continuing Studies that afternoon.
The mother and daughter studied together throughout their time at the university.
“I’d ask my mom if I could practice my presentations with her, and she’d be my audience,” recalls the younger O’Hearn. “She’s definitely good at helping me talk through topics.”
The pair even traveled to Eastern Europe at the same time for their respective programs – the mother to Prague and the daughter to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Community of Values
The younger O’Hearn came to Georgetown after graduating from the University of Notre Dame and teaching English in Morocco as a Fulbright scholar.
Her interest in international studies led her to Washington, D.C., to work in international development and later in risk advisory.
“I knew I wanted to continue with international affairs, and that there’s no better place than Georgetown to study that,” O’Hearn says.
Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identity also influenced her decision.
“It’s really nice to be a part of a community that understands your values,” she adds. “Having the social justice component is really important.”
Dream Come True
She had been studying in the government department for a year before her mother realized that she, too, wanted to attend Georgetown.
“It was a dream come true,” the elder O’Hearn explained of her experience.
“Growing up abroad and as an only child, I feel like a lot of my life has been us as [one] unit,” the daughter says of her family. “It’s a treasure, and very special to share this with my mom.”
Her mother and father have supported the school way before their daughter came to the Hilltop.
“When Monica was four years old we took a trip to Mexico City and I was wearing a Georgetown shirt with Monica around my arm,” the mother explains.
“We bought the shirt while my husband and I were taking Korean language classes in Washington D.C. that summer,” she says. “We both liked Georgetown, so my husband bought the shirt when we visited the university one weekend. When we went to Mexico City, the airline lost our suitcases and that ended up being the only shirt I had until we could get some new clothes.”
The elder O’Hearn says they never imagined at that time that she and her daughter would later graduate together from Georgetown, but was thrilled when her daughter chose the university.
“My husband and I were hoping it was going to be Georgetown,” she says. “When she finally announced we were beyond happy – that was the greatest thing. We both ran with our programs, made the most of them, met some great people and learned some great things.”
“We are both so proud of each other,” her daughter says. “We worked really hard for these degrees and supported each other every step of the way. There's nothing better than being able to celebrate together.”