Title: Adult learner celebrates AU graduation
Immediately after Dee Hudson, 44, graduated from Anderson University May 6, she handed her diploma to her husband, George, and declared it also belonged to him, and their two children, Jaime and Jared. She contends she couldn't have succeeded without her family's support.
"It was the hardest thing I have ever done," said Dee, of going to school while raising her family. "But, it was worth it."
Dee smiles. "I think God has to be just as happy because I remember driving down Eighth Street going for a test, and I would just be begging God to help me through it," she said. "I didn't think there was any way I would pass a test, let alone get an A."
But, Dee did receive lots of A's, graduating summa cum laude, with a 4.0 grade point average and a degree in elementary education.
She was not the only one in the family making top grades. Her children have been excelling academically as well. Son Jared, 18, will graduate June 1 from Anderson High School, with a 4.2 grade point average. Daughter Jaime, who'll be 20 on May 31, is making straight A's as a sophomore-nursing student at AU.
College was always Dee's dream, but a goal that was on put on hold. She and her husband, an executive recruiter, were married in June 1974 after Dee's high school graduation from Lapel. George was in college at the time of their marriage, and together they figured Dee would go to college after he graduated.
Soon other things took top priority, and once the Hudsons became new parents, Dee was so enthralled with motherhood that the thought of college was put on hold even longer.
"They are only 22 months a part, so I had my hands full," said Dee, adding she loved every moment of their baby days. "God had given me such a gift -- two miracles -- that I felt it was my full-time responsibility to do the very best job I could do to raise them."
Through Dee's childhood and even in her adult years, teachers would comment on Dee's flair for teaching, stating she was a "natural teacher."
When her children were in school, Dee got a job as a pre-kindergarten teacher's aide at Liberty Christian, and when the classroom teacher became chronically ill, Dee was asked to take over.
She knew then she needed a degree in education and instantly began taking classes. She studied through correspondence, then went for night classes, while also teaching at Liberty Christian.
She stayed at Liberty for nine years, and then with her family's support, Dee decided to go to college full-time in order to complete her studies faster and get the long, sought-after degree.
"During lunch time, I would drive to the park, sit in my car, and do my homework," Dee said, making the most of every moment in order to have more time for her family.
"The pressure for the (top) grades actually came from them," Dee said of her children. "They are both straight A students, and I knew that we always pushed them to excel academically and that I would be a hypocrite if I didn't push myself academically."
Jaime and Jared are proud of their mom.
"She's my little buddy," said Jared with smile.
Jaime noted their mother is so devoted to motherhood and her family. "I have never seen anyone who gives more of herself to other people."
And while Jaime has been an AU student along with her mother, Jaime has heard comments from college friends about her "cool" mom.
George admits there were times when the pressure was on him to run family errands or prepare the evening meals.
"I look at it like this. She sacrificed to help me get through when I was laid off from General Motors and when I was finishing my degree. She helped me get through and I figured I owed it to her," George said.
He shed tears when his wife received her diploma. "I was so happy for her."
Now Dee hopes to land a permanent elementary teaching job, and is going through the application process. "I love teaching children," Dee said, who is currently filling in at Indian Creek in Lawrence Township, teaching third-graders.
And once she lands a permanent teaching contract, Dee said she's ready to go back to school for her master's degree. She encourages others to follow their dreams of getting a college diploma, and admits she knows what it's like -- at first -- to feel intimidated about being the oldest in class.
"But, by the time I graduated, I had some very close friends," said Dee with a smile. "And it didn't matter that they are all my daughter's age."
-- Theresa Campbell is a reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.