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65-year-old graduate lived in dorms while pursuing UCCS master's degree

May 12, 2017 Updated: May 12, 2017 at 4:58 pm
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photo - Carol Collins
Carol Collins 

Plenty of people look to 65 as retirement age, but Carol Collins saw it as a great time to live in a freshman dorm while knocking out her master's degree at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Friday, Collins and 1,531 other students became the biggest graduating class at UCCS in its 52-year history.

She is only one of the many nontraditional students to attend UCCS, but her decision to live in a dorm was a bit unusual.

"All the young adults on campus were very polite and generous and wonderful," Collins said. "We would talk, and we would laugh.

"Conservatives and liberals can talk to one another here without getting angry. That's what I like about this generation. They're very open."

Collins had delayed her graduate studies while working and raising her children.

So she related well to her fellow freshmen from the start. "The first week (in the dorm) was a lot of activity, the excitement of being away from home, and that's kind of how I was. I had no more children to take care of; I was a single mom for the past 19 years with my last two children."

Now she was free to focus on her master's degree in public administration, with a concentration on critical infrastructure and homeland security.

And she's not done yet. Collins has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at UCCS on educational leadership research and policy.

"Somewhere along the line, our culture lost sight of the wisdom of those of us who have lived a few years longer than the rest," she said.

But not at UCCS, which attracts students of all ages. The school is the fastest-growing among the four CU campuses, with enrollment nearing 12,000 students this school year.

Friday, about 1,000 graduates and their families attended ceremonies to accept doctoral, master's and bachelor's degrees at The Broadmoor World Arena..

First-generation student Mykinthia Ebron, who received a UCCS Student Achievement Award this year, delivered the morning commencement address to students from the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Ebron plans to attend law school.

Nicole Chung, who also received the achievement award, spoke at the afternoon ceremony. Chung, who enrolled as a single mother, was inspired to become a nurse during her mother's breast cancer treatment.

The afternoon ceremony was for students of the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, College of Business, School of Public Affairs, College of Education and College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

"I really am excited. There's so much more to do," Collins said. "We live in an age where we continue to need to advance our skills and knowledge. And I find that it keeps my mind sharp to study and contribute to class discussions. I hope this helps other people feel they can carry on (their education)."

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