Family affair: Mother, son graduating from NAU on Friday

Despars family

By Heidi Toth
NAU Communications

Meet Sharon and David Despars.

Undergraduate program:
Sharon Despars: Logistics and supply chain management
David Despars: Mechanical engineering

Sharon Despars: NAU Online
David Despars: Flagstaff

As a high school junior, David Despars signed up for a college course, earning dual credit. So when his mother repeated her oft-stated phrase—“I’ll go to college when you do”—he had an answer ready.

“I am in college,” he said.

The next semester, Sharon Despars enrolled at NAU. She built on her strength as a purchasing manager and majored in logistics and supply chain management, though that decision—and the math that came with it—wasn’t easy.

“The first challenge was deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Sharon said.

One class at a time, Sharon worked through the degree requirements. David graduated from high school and started school at NAU, the only school to which he’d applied. With 11 years of music behind him, he started as a music education major but then found an interest in biofuels and solar electricity and switched to mechanical engineering.

On Friday morning, David Despars will be in the Skydome to watch his mother walk across the stage and receive her long-awaited bachelor’s degree. On Saturday afternoon, Sharon Despars will be in the Skydome to watch her son walk across the stage and earn his degree.

On Saturday night, there may be an epic celebration in the Despars household.

The dual graduation ceremonies were unplanned but a nice bit of kismet for the Phoenix family.

“It feels really cool to see my mom and me accomplish this milestone victory in our lives,” David said. “For her to complete her degree while working full-time and being an awesome mom is really cool. I’m very proud of her.”

For her part, Sharon is most proud her sons. They’ve worked hard in school and they’re following their own passions, she said, such as David switching his major to engineering, which required more classes and more technical work than a typical science degree. Also, she said, they were excellent math tutors when she needed help.

After the official celebration—a family road trip to Las Vegas to see the Blue Man Group—the Lumberjack contingent of the Despars family will put their degrees to use. Sharon accepted a new position that moves her from supply chain management into logistics, and while she’s not committing to anything, she hasn’t ruled out a master’s degree. David is taking a break after five and a half years of school and then will look for jobs in the aerospace industry.

NAU Communications