The Class of 2017 includes graduates who have overcome incredible challenges to wear the cap and gown. They not only inspire us, they lend further proof to the fact that the "traditional" college student is a thing of the past.
EAB is celebrating the Class of 2017! For all things graduation, use and follow the Twitter hashtag #GraduatEAB
Here are five of this year's most inspirational grad stories.
Summa cum laude with honors at 72:
Seventy-two-year-old Darlene Mullins graduated last week from Tennessee State University, where she earned a summa cum laude with honors degree in interdisciplinary studies and a minor in communications.
Mullins attended some college back in the 1960's while training to be an Olympic track star, but when she started a family, she gave up track—which meant stopping out of college. But 55 years later, Mullins has finished what she started—something she says she always tells her children to do. "I kind of felt it was time to live up to my own advice," Mullins told the Evening Standard.
88-year-old gets what he's wanted for 60 years—at no cost
At 88 years old, Horace Sheffield earned his degree in Christian studies from Shorter University. Sheffield had stopped out of college in 1965 to help educate his daughters, because back then, he told ABC News, "a piece of paper on a wall" didn't mean as much as it does today. He didn't think he would be able to afford to finish college until he discovered that Shorter waives tuition for senior students. Sheffield says he couldn't have graduated without the help of his tutor, Amanda Brannock.
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From combat to commencement—alongside his daughter:
Forty-six-year-old Deron Santiny and his 23-year-old daughter Haley Fox will both graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette this week. Santiny had originally attended college back in1992, but stopped out when he joined the military. While serving in Iraq, Santiny suffered an injury that subsequently required 21 surgeries. He earned a purple heart—but he wanted to earn a degree, too.
Returning to school alongside his daughter was motivator for Santiny, who says she tutored him in math.
Mother and daughter return for GEDs—but end up accomplishing a whole lot more
Fifty-two-year old Paula O'Neil and her 31-year-old daughter Chantel Batuk will graduate on May 20th from the State University of New York University of Albany (UAlbany) with honors.
Several years ago, the mother-daughter duo returned to school for their GEDs. They never guessed they would go on to enroll in UAlbany's competitive School of Social Welfare.
“Four years ago I would have told you I had a ninth-grade education and a cleaning company,” O'Neil told ABC News. "I'm surprised. I'm shocked. And I'm scared every single step. But my family is walking beside me."
Employed and overjoyed—at graduation
During her graduation ceremony from the University of Central Florida last week, Melanie Sanchez got a phone call. She wasn't supposed to have her phone on, but when she picked up the call, she was glad she did.
The call turned out to be an employer offering her a job. Sanchez' classmate captured a video of the call, which has since gone viral on the internet (Glean, Evening Standard, 5/10; Genet, ABC News, 5/9; McKenzie, ABC News, 5/7; Murphy, ABC News, 5/8; The Daily Advertiser/WWL, 5/10).
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