Lillian Marie Peeples came to St. Ambrose College as a proud, "fresh-faced" member of the freshman class of 1971.
On December 17, she was one of 239 proud members of St. Ambrose University's graduating winter class of 2011.
Peeples, a Davenport Central graduate who now lives in Silvis, said the call of the working world took her away from attending SAU fulltime in 1974.
"I was within a semester of my senior year and I just couldn't do it anymore," she said. "I was trying to work and support myself. It just wasn't feasible. I was young and I had time and so I just decided, 'I'll get it (my degree) later.'"
Could she have imagined then, that later would be 40 years down the road?
"I didn't realize that," she said with a chuckle. "But it's done and I am very happy." Peeples said she took classes every now and again while working a series of jobs over the years, often with the encouragement of her employers.
For the past decade, she enlisted the ACCEL program to continue her progress. Roughly a year ago, she was laid off from a job in the judicial system and decided to get serious about finishing her degree.
Peeples called the SAU admissions office to determine exactly how many credit hours she needed to earn a cap and gown. "When told it was 17, I said, 'Where do I sign up? Let's do this,'" she said. "So I started in January and finished last Tuesday."
Peeples was handed a Bachelor of Elected Studies diploma Saturday morning at the River Center in Davenport.
"I'm proud," she said, "and it couldn't have come at a better time."
The winter commencement class of 2011 included 153 bachelor's degree candidates, 57 master's degree candidates and 29 doctoral degree candidates. Professor of Social Work Brenda DuBois gave the commencement address.
MORE LIKE THIS:Institutional-Campus