Father and son share unique bond, graduating from Evergreen State College together

Lucas and Art Kelly have a unique take on going to school during a pandemic.

Their bond over the past few years consistent of doing homework together as both were students at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

"It's like a brotherly time of relationship. When I look back on the pictures I'll know I had a cool and interesting dad," said Lukas. 
 
Lately, their relationship consisted of homework, studying, and trying to pass their classes together. Art never got the chance to go to college. He worked as an ironworker in Seattle while raising his family. Art has a troubled past as he says he had fallen in and out of sobriety since 1984, struggling with cocaine, alcohol, and meth which took him to his ‘rock bottom’ in 2017.

"I can remember saying ‘Happy Fathers Day!' to my mom every single year because dad wasn't around," said Lukas.

"I burned every bridge and I wandered in the streets of Burien, homeless, penniless, no money. I stole from my family, my kids," said Art.

That's when someone took him to the Tacoma rescue mission to help him with his drug and alcohol addiction. 

"I was starting to break through that wall of denial. To share and cry to your 15-year-old son, it's not very manly ya know," confessed Art.

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But Lukas said he told his dad something that changed everything for the both of them.

"Lukas told me, ‘Dad every morning when the phone rings, I thought you were going to be dead,’" said Art.

So, Art eventually enrolled in a new life program, an education program at the mission, and soon after enrolled into classes at Tacoma Community College. Instead of reaching for a drug, he was reaching for pen and paper. 

"It saved my life it saved my family's life…once I got a taste of college... would make some 12 step meetings but college filled that hole for me," he said.

Art eventually followed his son and enrolled at Evergreen and they also became roommates, for the first time in a long time.

"It didn't have him for most of my childhood and I figured why not, get some time back with him. Figure out who this guy really is," said Art.

This is why this moment of graduation is so special. "So this is what was it's like to put on a college graduation robe on? It was better than I thought. I felt pretty cool I felt like somebody you know?" said Art.

On June 11th, both father and son graduated with Bachelor's degrees from Evergreen. But that day wasn't just a college graduation celebration, it was a milestone.

"Graduating with my dad I don't think it's really hit me, to be honest. It's such a real surreal experience. He's 63, I'm 23 we're 40 years apart. He's a fighter for sure and that's one thing I'll take from his journey," said Lukas. 

"Having the respect of my family again, the love of my family the support of my family. That's what it was all about, I could care less about the diploma," said Art.

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