In December, at universities across the nation, graduating students walked down the aisle into the next phase of adult life. Of these degree-conferring events, the University of Oklahoma’s College of Liberal Studies winter convocation was notable for recognizing the unique achievements of nontraditional students. Held at Paul F. Sharp Hall at Catlett Music Center on the Norman campus on Dec. 10, 2011, the CLS winter convocation marked an important transition in these graduates’ lives.
In the audience at the auditorium, supporting the 63 bachelor's degree candidates and 65 master’s degree candidates who walked during the ceremony, were more than 600 of the students’ family members and friends.
“The excitement of the graduates’ families really made this a special event,” said Missy Mitchell, CLS special events coordinator. “Since these students are nontraditional, attending school part time to complete their educations, they require a support system of family members to help them succeed and finish.”
The need for that support system and the demands that the time needed for academic study can place on it hold true for Steve Herpolshiemer, 50, who received his first bachelor’s degree at the December convocation. An officer in the Las Vegas Police Department and a single parent of two children (he has a son and a daughter), Herpolshiemer enrolled at CLS to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Leadership, 25 years after dropping out of college. For Herpolshiemer, it was a challenge to balance study time with work, family, and finances. But he found that with the support of his family, he could focus on the greater challenge of completing his education.
“My biggest challenge was all the writing,” Herpolshiemer said. “I started out getting red markings on my [graded] papers. Eventually, I was receiving compliments from my professors on them. Many OU professors took great time to straighten me out on my writing from the beginning. I am a better writer for that.”