CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 18, 2015 – Southeast students and husband and wife duo Michael Griffith and Brandy Talbott of Cape Girardeau, will share a milestone when they both receive degrees at Southeast Missouri State University’s fall 2015 commencement exercises Dec. 19 at the Show Me Center.
While it is a coincidence they are graduating at the same time, it’s a happy one said Michael.
Michael’s and Brandy’s journey brought them together from across the country and world to walk together at graduation.
Michael is from Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He joined the U.S. Navy in 2002 and was stationed in San Diego, California. He served on the flagship USS Valley-Forge CG-50 during the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was honorably discharged in 2006 and returned home.
I ended up in Missouri because I was working at McDonald’s with dismal prospects in my hometown, said Michael.
“I got off work one day and Googled jobs,” said Michael, who found an opportunity at Manpower with Procter & Gamble in Fruitland, Missouri. “I took a 16-hour Greyhound bus ride and accepted a job.”
I knew I wanted to go to college, and started attending Southeast in 2008, said Michael.
Brandy’s childhood was spent in St. Louis before her family moved to Sikeston in 1999. She graduated high school in 2009, and spent two years at Missouri State University. She then transferred to Southeast.
The two met in the spring of 2014 while working at The Isle of Capri. Michael was a security officer; Brandy a cocktail waitress.
“I was standing at the podium at front of the casino and asked for some water from a fellow security officer,” recalled Michael. “Brandy brought it to me, after that we just clicked.”
They were married earlier this year.
During the past year they’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and some blessings, including the joyous birth of their daughter Katelyn Elizabeth Griffith on Nov. 14.
Brandy completed a full time internship in the employee wellness department at Saint Francis Medical Center while being pregnant over the summer. She worked full time at night, while Michael went to school and worked during the day.
But they’ve been one another’s cheerleaders, said Michael.
“We’re go-getters, and we helped each other out,” he said. “We had a lot on our plate, but we proved victorious.”
Being confident and determined are qualities he got from his mom, said Michael.
“She always said it just shows you how much you can do when you put your mind to it,” said Michael.
Having the support at Southeast and the military and veterans’ services and benefits has been a substantial part of their success, said Michael.
“I feel very blessed,” he said.
After graduation, in January, Michael will be undergoing extensive knee surgery to rectify knee injuries he sustained in the line of duty. He will be rehabbing for roughly a year. Brandy plans to care for him and their daughter during that time.
After this period of convalescence, they plan to move somewhere with ocean access. Michael aspires to work in agricultural sales. Brandy plans to return to school to passionately pursue a career in nursing.
They both will carry fond memories of their time at Southeast no matter where they go, said Michael.
Brandy enjoyed participating in the steer sober campaign last spring and watching it being turned into a commercial.
“I really liked my landscaping class with Dr. Sven Svenson,” said Michael. “It really gave me a hands-on experience driving the Case tractor and helping build the brick fire pit behind the greenhouse.”
Michael will graduate with a Bachelor of General Studies and Bachelor of Science with a major in agribusiness, horticulture option.
Brandy will graduate with Bachelor of Science in health management, health promotion option.
A total of 773 students – 611 undergraduate and 162 master’s and specialist students – will receive degrees at Southeast Missouri State University’s commencement exercises at 2 p.m. Dec. 19 in the Show Me Center.