Duvinson Jeanty and his son, Benjamin, are the first in their family to graduate from college, and the two of them both graduated from William Paterson University together last week.
Duvinson, a 63-year-old Haitian immigrant, majored in finance, and his son majored in psychology, according to the Montclair Local.
Duvinson came to the United States in 1983 with very little to his name, but his parents had always told him that an education was important. He saved up money but wasn’t able to go to college for some time still because he was taking care of his mother. He was working two jobs to make ends meet, but after he got a job as a bus driver for NJ Transit, he was able to find the time to start taking classes part-time at Passaic Community College in Paterson.
When he finally retired in 2016, he finished out his studies at William Paterson.
“I’ve always been the oldest student in the classroom,” he said. “Sometimes I came across students who could have been my grandchildren. … I was highly motivated. I just pushed it aside.”
Benjamin was a little daunted by the idea of going to college because he was not sure he would be able to afford it. However, his father was an inspiration to him.
“My father, despite all the challenges that he up against him — taking care of my grandmother and providing for us, working full-time — he decided to go to college,” Benjamin recalled.
“That was my junior year,” he said. “It was a lot on the family. … But he still saw the need to pursue an education for himself. And that marked me. So because of that I started to develop a desire, a passion, to go.”
He went to Rutgers University in Newark for a year and a half but didn’t feel that it was him. He instead got a job washing dishes and was able to work his way up to a managerial position from there. But while he was making money, he felt that he was not doing enough, so he went back to Rutgers and then transferred to William Paterson to finish out his degree.
Duvinson plans to get an MBA from William Paterson so he can open his own business, and Benjamin wants to study urban policy at the New School in Manhattan.