81-Year Old Grad Checks Item Off Bucket List

Carol Gallaway was seated in the corridor of John E. Tucker Coliseum at Arkansas Tech University on Saturday afternoon, patiently awaiting her turn to walk across the arena floor and receive her degree alongside her fellow members of the ATU Class of 2018.

She didn’t seem to mind the 45-minute wait. After all, it was the culmination of a journey 64 years in the making.

Gallaway, 81 of Searcy, received a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree from Arkansas Tech.

She graduated from high school in Litchfield, Neb., in 1954. Credit hours secured at the University of Nebraska and later through correspondence courses and night classes allowed her to earn a two-year degree and pursue a teaching career.

She served as a substitute teacher for many years while her husband, Richard, worked for SuperSweet Feeds and moved the family from Arkansas to Kansas, from Kansas to Nebraska, from Nebraska to Texas, from Texas to Kansas and finally back around to Arkansas for their retirement years.

Richard passed away in 2010. After serving in the roles of wife, mother and grandmother over a span of 53 years, Carol found herself in need of a new pursuit in life.

“One cold morning after my husband died, I was trying to decide what to do with myself,” said Gallaway. “Across the TV came an ad about completing your degree online. So I called, and I was enrolled that day.”

Soon after, Gallaway was connected with the person she credits as being most instrumental in her degree completion — her academic advisor at ATU, Miranda Senn.

“She was perfect,” said Gallaway. “I also had a couple of instructors, one of which was Jennifer Saxton, that I really liked.”

Gallaway often corresponded with her fellow students through electronic communication, and after an adjustment period she found the experience beneficial.

“They were all a lot younger than me, but they were very nice,” said Gallaway when asked about her fellow students. “We clicked and we did well.”

As a result, Gallaway has achieved one of her life’s ambitions.

“This was on my bucket list,” said Gallaway. “I wanted my grandkids and great-grandkids to realize they can do it. Never give up.”

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