MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall speaks at Columbia College–Fort Worth commencement

Popular anchor's mother graduates with bachelor's degree in general studies.

MSNBC news anchor Tamron Hall and Mary Newton '11
Mary Newton '11, who graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in general studies from Columbia College–Fort Worth, says her daughter may have missed her calling.

"She always had something to say, always loved to prove a point," Newton says from her home in Texas. "I told her she should be a lawyer."

Tamron Hall didn't become a lawyer. Instead she studied broadcast journalism at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa., began working as a TV reporter and went on to host "NewsNation" on MSNBC and be a substitute host for NBC's "Today" and "Weekend Today." Additionally, she has served as co-host of the "Dateline" series “You Might Be Rich."

"I am very proud to have a daughter reporting the news daily!" Newton says.

Tamron Hall speaking at the Columbia College-Fort Worth commencement
Hall gave the commencement address at her mother's graduation without notes, speaking from the heart about the sacrifices the more than 200 graduates made to get their homework done, get to class on time and still balance all their work and family responsibilities.

"Students were crying in their seats," says Brenda Cole, associate director. The audience gave Hall a standing ovation.

Responsibility and sacrifice aren't just words to Newton. She retired after 26 years as a computer training lab manager and semi-retired from a very successful real estate practice to spend time with her husband and help care for her son and his wife's four children. Her own son didn't do badly either: he's now a banker with Wells Fargo.

"We had a year before he [her husband] passed," says Newton. "Just one year. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. The feeling runs through you just like water. God gave us 27 years together but I could have gone on like Methuselah, for 969 years."

A good friend (Gwendolyn Peyton '10, currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services) from church recommended Columbia College to Newton.

"I said to her, 'Are you serious? At my age? [Newton is now 61.] With all these children and all my responsibilities?' "

Newton nonetheless looked into Columbia College and liked what she saw. She found that she could take classes online and in-seat and still care for her grandchildren.

"I went back to college for me and my brain," she says. "Columbia College let me stay home and continue to babysit when I needed to, and go to the base [Columbia College–Fort Worth is located on a military joint reserve base] too. I liked coming to the base. I am more of a hands-on instructional person, but online worked out okay."

Having her daughter speak at commencement was just the icing on the cake.

"I was very pleased to have my daughter speak at my graduation, to honor the goals I had accomplished with God's help. This was very hard. This was a real challenge. I thank God I stayed with it.

"I am a firm believer that everything is there for a reason, and Columbia College was there for me."


Anonymous said...


JazzyC's random thoughts said...

What a inspiring story, I am five classes away from achieving my goal, my degree. I know that with the love of GOD and my faith, I will be a success. Columbia gives you that platform to be a success-Carolyn Jones Columbia-St. Louis campus

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!!! I like to watch the Today Show everyday now that I lost my job. Your story has motivated me now because I also wanted to be a sucessful person in this country. Getting a degree give everyone new opportunities like you and me.It is also a great example for our kids.

debra robinson said...

This is an inspiring story. As I read this story all I could see was me. I'm 57 years old and graduated May 7, 2011. It took a longer time to finish because of my fight with breast cancer. The students and staff kept me motivated and I was able to keep my eyes on the prize and reach my goal with the support of family also. Debra Robinson-St. Louis campus

Anonymous said...

I graduated with "Mrs. Mary"...she is a wonderful lady! The speech was amazing, I am so happy I was there to witness it.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, this is such an inspiring story. I am just two classes away from finishing my degree at Columbia through the online program, and I have enjoyed the freedom of being ablet to complete my degree while working full-time.
Dionne Freeman

marci said...

Thanks Mary for sharing your story and life with us. I graduate next year at the age of forty-eight!! I plan on getting my master's degree and hopefully a doctoral degree. Your story has given me encouragement to stay on course!!

marci said...

Great story! Mary you're an inspiration to older students, such as myself!
I'll graduate next year at the age of 48, plan on on getting my PhD one day. Thanks for sharing your story!

morgan's mom said...

Wonderful story and I love seeing your daughter on the "Today Show". You have inspired me to continue my education-We are a military family with a 2 yr. old and I am a stay at home mom in Leavenworth, KS and feel that things are hard at times but you have inspired me to keep going-nothing is too hard for my God and me!!! Congrats to you!!!!

Ashley M. said...

Ms. Tamron Hall did a wonderful job speaking at the commencement ceremony that I was so honored to be apart of. Thank you Columbia for helping me to pursue my education and with that I have decided to continue.. Now on to my Masters..

Ashley W. said...

I LOVE TAMRON on MSNBC. She is always so beautiful (inside and out) and poised! Why wasn't THIS discussed on TV? I heard NOTHING. As one of the few minorities I see on MSNBC, TAMRON, you make "us" so proud.

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