UNT a Family Affair for Mom, Daughter

Written by: 
Erin Cristales
Photography by: 
Ranjani Groth
Emma and Kathy Earhart
Emma and Kathy Earhart

Emma Earhart apologizes for being a few minutes late. "Traffic," she sighs.

"It was her first time to drive alone, I think," says her mother, Kathy Earhart. It's late July, and even though Emma is set to start her first semester at UNT in just a few weeks, she turned 16 only three days ago.

"She was so nervous about her driving test, but I was like, 'Honey, you already earned your associate degree -- you've done hard things, you've got this,'" Kathy says.

And no one knows better than Kathy how hard Emma has worked. At 14, the Denton teen chose to forgo high school and instead take classes at North Central Texas College after scoring high enough on her SAT to do so. Kathy was so inspired by her daughter's commitment to education, she enrolled at NCTC a semester later.

"I thought my ship had already sailed," Kathy says. "But when I saw her doing so well, I was like, 'You know what? I'm going to go for it.'"

Now both women have transferred to UNT as biology majors, with the shared dream of becoming doctors: Emma a surgeon and Kathy a dermatologist. This semester, they're enrolled in the same classes -- 14 hours total -- and they will be half­way through their junior year at the conclusion of the fall term.

Having each other to rely on, the Earharts say, makes the transition to UNT even easier -- and reminds them of how they've persevered to get here.

"I admire that Emma isn't going the traditional route," Kathy says. "There have been a lot of naysayers, but she's always aimed for the stars."

I can say the same thing about mom, Emma replies.

"She's balancing a job, a family and classes," Emma says. "No matter what, we always encourage each other."

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