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When a contingent from EKU, including President Michael Benson, traveled to Harrodsburg in June 2017 to present 80-year-old Joyce Sanders with an associate’s degree, the work for which she had completed mostly in the 1950s, the proud new graduate hinted that she might not be finished.

So, needing only two courses to complete a bachelor’s degree, the spry octogenarian enrolled in a writing-intensive class and GSD 399 (“Professional Skill Development”) at the University’s Danville campus. And, on Friday afternoon, Dec. 15, with family and friends watching, Sanders crossed the University’s commencement stage to receive a bachelor’s degree in general studies.

As she did when she earned her first degree earlier in the year, Sanders, now 81, composed a poem to mark the momentous occasion:

“My heart is bubbling over with joy and love,

Some of it which comes from our Father above.


In talking and praying to God about my intention,

He gave me the green light to proceed with my ambition.


In 1958, I made a pledge to finish my degree,

It took fifty-nine years for me to reach my destiny.


I enrolled at the Danville EKU Campus in the fall,

Just needing six hours to finish seemed small.


So I took a literature class and another online,

The learning experience was stimulating and sublime.


It seemed difficult having to study at first,

Reading and working on the computer made my head burst.


I enjoyed having this adventure that took much too long,

Every year has been worth waiting making me strong.


I am so glad God encouraged me to finish my need,

With his guidance and knowing my desire to succeed.


Graduation day came December 15, 2017, with my heart skipping a beat,

Tears came to my eyes as my degree became complete.


Several students helped me with my mortarboard and gown,

Making me elated to have them around.


Due to my age, I worried the other students would laugh and make fun,

Not so, they smiled accepting me as the line begun.


I cannot think of enough words and feelings I sensed,

My goal and journey were complete and no more suspense.”


Students who have earned at least 80 credit hours but have not earned a degree qualify for Project Graduate, a statewide program that makes it easier for adults to return and complete their studies. For more information, visit