Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Father and Son Dorian Joyner Sr. and Dorian Joyner Jr. graduate together from Morehouse College

Two men named Dorian Joyner will graduate on Sunday from Morehouse College in Georgia. They are a father and son who have supported each other as classmates and family.

Dorian Joyner Sr., 46, was a student at Atlanta's Morehouse College in 1988 when he decided to take some time off from school to pursue a career opportunity in computers. Over the next 20 years, he worked as a senior analyst in data and finance for several major corporations, including a large law firm.

After growing more and more interested in law, he went back to school in 2006 to get an associate's degree in paralegal studies to make sure he really loved law before investing time and money in law school.

In 2010, Joyner Sr. approached his son to tell him about his decision to go back to Morehouse.

"I just told him to repeat the question one more time and repeat the answer one more time because I thought I heard a different answer," Dorian Joyner Jr., 23, told ABCNews.com with a laugh. "I thought he was coming to visit friends. He was coming back as a student."

The two were never in the same class, but shared some of the same teachers. Joyner Sr. chuckled as he recalled teachers doing a double-take when they saw that they had a Dorian Joyner in their class when they had previously taught one of a different age.

"When we saw each other, we'd greet each other, talk to each other and see how the other was doing in classes," Joyner Jr. said. "Sometimes, people would walk past us when we were talking and say, 'Wow, you two look just alike.'"

"The only thing he doesn't do is say, 'Dad,' on campus. He'll call me Dorian," Joyner Sr. said.

Joyner Sr. said that on campus, he fit in by dressing like the other guys and carrying his backpack. He said that most students kept their distance from "the old guy" for the first few months of each semester until after the first group project, when he realized how he excelled in presentations from all of his work experience. Then, they flocked to be in his group.

Their roles were reversed, with Joyner Jr. keeping a watchful eye on his father at school.

"He acts like he's my father on campus," Joyner Sr. said. "He'll say, 'Did you get your class? Did you register?' He makes sure to check up on everything."

On Sunday, both will don caps and gowns to graduate with a mutual pride in each other.

"I'm definitely proud of him," Joyner Jr. said. "I'm proud of him as a man to go back and fulfill a degree. A lot of people his age have a family, have a career and really don't have the time or finance to go back to school. The fact that he took the opportunity to find financing and time to go back to school while maintaining a social life and a family is very astounding. That's hard to do."

"It's just going to be an exciting time all around," Joyner Sr. said. "It makes me proud. I watched him struggle through school and he's my firstborn, so it really makes me proud."

President Obama will give the commencement speech at Morehouse's graduation ceremony.

The school is one of the country's leading historical black colleges and universities. Alumni include Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson, among others.