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61 Year Old Grandmother and Valedictorian of the Class of 2019

Updated on October 3, 2019
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Rhonda Davis BS, BA, is an artist living in Philadelphia PA and has recently graduated Valedictorian of the Cheyney University of PA.


Rhonda the Graduate
Rhonda the Graduate

Grandmother Graduates Valedictorian

Sitting in my living room, alone and bored back in 2012, I would never have thought that my education journey would go this route. My husband had found out that he had end stage renal disease and had to take an early retirement. I was suffereing from depression from empty nest syndrome and battling with trying to stay sober. My mother suggested that I go back to school to get my degree, and for once I listened to her.

I enrolled in my Community College and thought that an English degree would be awesome since I love to write. I ended up excelling in not only that degree but added a Theatre Degree and a Creative Writing Certificate along with it. I was amazed at how easy school came to me at my age, and how much I really enjoyed it, math however was a different beast and I had to repeat the prerequisite class in order to move forward, which I did and passed it.

My husband of 20 years had begun to change profoundly. He resented my succees as a student and berated every attempt I made at it. "Why do you want to go to college this late in the game", he would say. I'd just pack my book bag and continue on. By 2015, I knew that I was graduating with high honors in 2016, and during a college fair I was offered the opportunity to go on to get my Bachelor's Degree at a four-year college. Cheyney University of PA offered me a full scholarship due to my high GPA. However, my husband threatened to leave me if I pursued my education beyond my Associates Degree.

I called the college and asked did a room come with the scholarship, they said yes. He moved out, my daughter moved in with my two grandsons, and I went to live on campus at the age of 58. It was amazing!

Once on campus, I decided instead of pursuing a Bachelor of Art in English, I wanted to get the Bachelor of Art in Fine Art, a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, and Minor in English instead. And that is what I did.

While living on campus my husband made it his life work to make my life as miserable as possible. He was sick and I continually prayed that he get better and realize that what he was doing was wrong. He cut me off financially, so I had to take him to court. He stopped payments on my vehichle, so I had to ride the bus. This put a strain on my sciatica which was really hard to bear sometimes walking around campus, especially if the elevators were not working, but the power of prayer pushed me forward. June of 2018, my husband passed away! I remember crying so much because I kept feeling that if he had just stayed home he would have had so much better care. It was the summer months so I did not have to worry about class as I got his affairs in order, which included taking possession of his car. I was on the road again. I found out that my financial situation would be much better due to social security and his pension. My life was about to change so much. Thank you God was all I could say.

When the Fall of my senior year started I got back involved with the Fine Art Honor Society of Cheyney University. I was their treasurer for two years and became the President of the FAHS for my senior year. A month before my graduation I was told that I would be graduating Summa Cum Laude and was nominated as the class of 2019's Valedictorian. I was shocked, elated, and full of so much gratitude!

Today, as I write this, I'd like any woman that has dedicated her life to her family and put her education on hold for them to know that it is never too late to get what you desire. Sometimes you have to say, this time is for me. At the age of 60, I graduated with a BA, a BS, and a minor in English. I have started my own company, Artsaytions (artSAYtions)~, I believe that art says what we feel. I love creating beautiful things and painting children's faces for special events. I love nature and and designing trinket boxes that I sell at vendor events! People always ask me, what are you going to do with all those degrees, and with a smile I say, "hang them on the wall".

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Rhonda Davis


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