Fayetteville State University Graduates a Mother-Daughter Team

Treisha Faison and her Daughter, Zha’bria Marquez, Received Their Degrees at Saturday’s Undergraduate Commencement

Treisha Faison and her Daughter, Zha’bria Marquez

Fayetteville, N.C. (May 15, 2023) — When Treisha Faison received her degree Saturday at Fayetteville State University’s (FSU) undergraduate commencement in Crown Coliseum, she had many reasons to feel proud -- including an unusual one. Her daughter, Zha’bria Marquez, graduated alongside her.

“I was totally excited,” said Faison, a Fayetteville resident who majored in criminal justice and is considering several career options her degree has opened up to her. “Graduating with my daughter was so meaningful to me.”

Marquez, a Fayetteville resident who majored in English language & literature with a concentration in pre-law and paralegal studies, aspires to become an attorney. She initially felt a bit “in shock” when she learned several months ago that she and her mother would fulfill their graduation requirements at the same time and walk together. She now says the chance development has generated an “exciting feeling” that very few others enjoy.

Remarkably, the graduating mother-daughter duo came close to becoming a trio of graduates from the same family, which would have included Faison’s son, Jamal Marquez. He’s scheduled to graduate from FSU next fall with a B.S. degree in criminal justice. Faison floated the possibility that she and Jamal would work with Zha’bria Marquez after she establishes a law practice.

For now, though, Faison and her daughter, who’s taking a gap year before enrolling in law school, seem content to take stock of their journey to FSU’s Class of 2023. This began to take hold when Faison decided to return to college a couple of years ago after being away from it for 10 years. Quite a challenge emerged when she enrolled at FSU: She would have to fit her online studies into a busy schedule that already included marriage, mothering two children at home, and working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. She served for many years as a teaching assistant in the Cumberland County Schools and is now a shipping and receiving clerk in the system’s General Services department.

Faison, who earned a 4.0 GPA, said she relied on at least three things to get her across the finish line. The first was her faith. The second was her organizational skills: She became “a stickler for planning ahead,” mapping out precisely what she wanted to accomplish each day on a weekly chart; the aim was to get enough done each day so that nothing piled up to the point where she became overwhelmed.

Third, Faison often turned to Marquez for encouragement or assistance. Marquez, drawing on wordsmith skills she refined in her pre-law studies, often critiqued and proofread the writing her mother had to produce for online discussion boards and papers. The result: “My writing skills have improved drastically,” Faison said.

Faison said she’s become her daughter’s “No. 1 cheerleader” -- which isn’t surprising, since Marquez gave her mother plenty of reasons to cheer while she was a student at FSU.

In the academic realm, Marquez has excelled, having, for example, graduated with honors. In April of last year, she was welcomed into the FSU Pre-Law Scholars Program, which afforded her paid internships for two semesters, LSAT preparation, and participation in a mock summer law school experience. She interned at the Raleigh-based North Carolina Department of Justice, where she shadowed a paralegal and conducted a moot court trial at the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Marquez described her moot trial experience as a kind of mock trial in which she and other interns made a case before three North Carolina Court of Appeals judges -- then, received constructive criticism from them. One of these judges, with whom Marquez ate lunch, was Richard Dietz. He has been appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

In addition to serving as a resident assistant (RA) at FSU, Marquez is a member of several distinguished organizations, including the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, the FSU Honors and Undergraduate Research Program, the Honors Scholars Association, and the Rho Alpha Sigma National Resident Assistant Honor Society.

As Faison and Marquez begin to adjust to life after FSU, they consider the possibility that other mother-daughter teams could graduate together from FSU in the future. Marquez has a bit of advice for them, advice she and her mother followed: “Be sure to lift each other up.”