Incoming junior Jennifer Cooper plans to major in psychology and history, but it’s her background that makes her unique among her peers.

Cooper, 49, is the mother of nine children. They range in age from 26 to 9.

“I had planned on having a career in life. I had never planned on being a stay-at-home mother,” Cooper said. “When my youngest son went to school and he was a little bit older, I thought, ‘you know, it’s time for me to decide what I want to do again.’”

Cooper went back to school two years ago and received her associate’s degree from Central Carolina Community College in May.

Starting next week, Cooper will commute to Chapel Hill from her home in Sanford, North Carolina, about an hour’s drive. She will take classes in the morning and be home in time to pick her children up from school.

She hopes to work in forensic psychology or teach psychology when she graduates.

Cooper’s daughter, Lydia, will be starting at Carolina as a junior this fall as well.

“All of my siblings, and myself included, we’re all just really proud,” Lydia Cooper said. “I’ve appreciated so much of her giving up her time to mother us, and to rear us, and I think it’s, you know, her time. We all support her, and we think it’s great.”

Video by Rob Holliday, University Communications

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