KGUN 9 On Your SideNewsLocal News


GMT Graduates: Earning a college degree in an unconventional way

Posted at 9:19 AM, May 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-08 16:50:38-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The process goes like this: We begin in elementary school, make the transition to middle and high school and finally bring that expensive piece of paper home from a college, right? Well, not necessarily.

"I actually started in the fall of 1975," says soon-to-be University of Arizona graduate Terri West.

West is a 61-year-old who, after more than four decades, is about to earn her bachelors degree in history.

"I actually started in the fall of 1975 as a freshman right out of high school," says West. "And I ended up having to take a medical withdrawl that spring of '76 because I blew my knee."

After taking a bit of time off to heal, it was back to the classroom. But not for long! Wedding bells were in the air!

"I married my husband in 1977, took a bit of a break, came back for a little bit of time," says West.

Then, no surprise here...came the kids!

"Took my next break with the birth of my first child. Took a bigger break when my kids were in high school," says West.

Then it was off to Pima Community College for an Associates degree. Followed by more wedding bells, but this time for her kids. Oh, and did we mention Terri was also a full-time employee at U of A?

"I decided full time work, school, and planning weddings just was not going to work," says West.

But things eventually settled down and earning that degree was able to take center stage again; however, as you can imagine, in a world where technology is king, someone who isn't necessarily considered to be a "spring chicken" may wonder... "Am I too old for this?"

"Gone are the days when you would get a 'blue book' and do your finals," says West. "In fact, I have a final coming up and I had to ask the students: 'Ummm...what are we doing? just do it this way now.' "I also think by learning, you keep yourself young, you keep yourself alive!"

Proving to so many of us that, no matter the age, a love for learning doesn't have to stop.