86-year-old realizes life long dream, graduates college

While it may seem like it takes a lifetime to graduate college for one local woman it actually was.

Around 1,200 Southern Illinois University students will graduate this winter now that final exams are over.

Graduation is a day that Rose Marie Howerton has been dreaming about since 1948.

"My family didn’t have the money to do that," said Howerton.  "Back then there weren’t scholarships, grants, and things like that."

In the 50’s Howerton started taking night classes at SIU, but eventually concentrated on her career.

Open heart surgery in 1980 made her reassess her priorities.

"I talked to my sister in law Colleen, and she said why don’t you go back," said Howerton. "I said you know Colleen I’m really old! Things have changed so much."

When Howerton went back to SIU she quickly realized times had changed.

"All of my files were in the dead file," said Howerton.

Thankfully she kept her old transcripts, and was allowed to enroll, but one class in particular gave her problems.

"I found out I didn’t know anything about computers," said Howerton.

With the help of her professors, fellow classmates, and a little hard work of her own she’s now realizing a life long dream.

"I’m going to hopefully walk across that stage and not fall," said Howerton.

Rose Marie Howerton will receive a bachelors degree in workforce education and development with a focus in accounting.

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