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More adults returning to school to earn degrees

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PADUCAH, Ky -

More than 1,150 Murray State University students are graduating this weekend. That includes returning adult students, who prove it's never too late to earn your degree.

About half a million people in Kentucky have some college credits, but not a degree. That's about one in 10 people. Now more than ever, those students are coming back to the classroom.

It's a moment that's been almost 30 years in the making.

"Oh my goodness. I cannot explain how happy I am," said soon-to-be Murray State-Paducah graduate Tammy Jones.

Jones will get her degree on Saturday after years of obstacles, including breast cancer, her brother's death and the travel that comes with being a military wife.

"It was a matter of time, but it's here," Jones said.

The interim director at the Murray State-Paducah campus, Dan Lavit, says Jones is not alone. More people are going back to school.

"Returning adult students realize that they're not only gaining better knowledge in school to help them in workplace, but the credential," Lavit said.

Lavit says most of these "non-traditional" students already have jobs. In today's economy, a degree gives them a leg up to move up at their current workplace.

"A credential, plus experience gives non-traditional students different search opportunities," Lavit said.

Jones is getting her degree in integrated studies, a degree meant for returning adult students. She wants to use it to move up from teacher's assistant to teacher.

"I'm just ready to do the actual walk across the stage," Jones said.

Last year, about 50 non-traditional students graduated with a degree in integrated studies.This year there are about 60.

Murray State's commencement ceremony is at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the CFSB center on the Murray campus.

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