Joshua and Katrina Bocanegra enrolled at Metropolitan Community College-Longview at the same time, worked on the same degree and even took some classes together.
And on May 17, the couple will don caps and gowns to walk together at MCC’s 2017 commencement ceremony at Municipal Auditorium.
He’s from Wyoming. She grew up mostly in Omaha. Each moved to Kansas City (he in 2006, she in 2007) to work with the International House of Prayer in south KC. They met as employees at a coffee shop run by the religious organization.
They became a couple in 2009 and were married in 2011.
“We both were doing work with the church,” including helping victims of abuse and people wrestling with substance abuse and other addictions, Joshua says. But “we both were just getting to the point where we wanted to better our ability to do the things we were doing.”
So they enrolled at MCC-Longview in Lee’s Summit in the fall of 2014. Katrina, now 33, completed her associate of arts degree last December. Joshua, 32, is wrapping up his coursework for the same degree this semester.
“We took English 101 together,” she says. “And English 102,” he chimes in. They would sit together, but instructors typically split them up when it came to class members peer-reviewing each other’s papers.
Taking notes in class, they discovered they had complementary perspectives: “We would pick up on opposite things,” Katrina says.
They also took the same sections of Spanish 101, speech and college algebra.
“We would try our speeches out on each other,” she says. “It was helpful because we were able to give good criticism.” And she tutored him in algebra.
Because of Joshua’s work schedule — making guitar pedals for JHS Pedals, working as a barista on weekends at the Filling Station in Westport — he took more online classes than she did. Katrina usually took one a semester. She also worked part time at the Filling Station, nannied for a while and has been assistant director of a church camp for teens.
Both are proud to not only have completed their degrees but to have excelled in their classes: They made the Dean’s List, were inducted into MCC-Longview’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa academic honor society, and received campus Academic Achievement Awards.
Katrina will transfer to MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe this fall to work on a bachelor’s in psychology. It’s a continuation of her love of counseling people, including those with addictions.
“It’s what made me decide to go back to school — the science behind why people do the things we do,” she says. “I really want to help people figure those things out. I come alive when I’m helping other people.”
Joshua will transfer to UMKC to continue studying literature and creative writing. He wants to become a writer of books and articles. “I think teaching literature would also be fun.”
Earning their MCC degrees “has been a lot of work, and we’ve done it together,” Katrina says. She’s excited about celebrating the achievement together at commencement.
“It’s definitely a road marker for both of us,” Joshua says. “It’s definitely not a stopping point. It’s more of a comma.”