Eighty-one-year-old Northwest Missouri State University alumna Kay Medsker Dolph of Savannah will get to mark an item off her bucket list Thursday when she finally dons a cap and gown and walks across the stage during the school' summer commencement ceremony.
Dolph graduated from Northwest in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in education but did not participate in graduation exercises.
At the time, she said, returning as quickly as possible to her husband and children in St. Louis was simply a higher priority.
Now, she figures, the time has finally come.
"Last year my youngest grandson graduated from the University of Missouri, and I was so proud of him," Dolph said. "Ever since then I have always wondered what it would feel like to walk across that stage."
Dolph said she is grateful to Northwest for helping turn her commencement wish into a reality.
"When I called the university they mentioned that no one had ever requested this before," Dolph said. "I wondered why not. It means a great deal to me to be able to walk in a graduation ceremony."
Though commencements are a staple on college campuses, Dolph noted that a lot of other things have changed at Northwest over the past 46 years.
"I remember Colden Hall was the most confusing building," she said. "The library was in Wells Hall, and the gym was in the Administration Building."
After earning her degree, Dolph worked in the adult education department at Jefferson College in Hillsboro. She later served as a recruiter for the School of Nursing at Graceland College (now Graceland University) in Lamoni, Iowa.
Both her parents attended Northwest in the 1930s.
Dolph is now retired and volunteers at the Rolling Hills Library in Savannah. She has five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren with one more on the way in January.
Two of her three sons serve in the military and the third lives in Kansas City. Several family members are expected to attend Thursday's ceremony.
Northwest’s summer commencement will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in Bearcat Arena. More than 240 students from the university's three colleges and graduate school are expected to receive bachelor’s, master’s and education specialist degrees.
The ceremony will be streamed live online at www.nwmissouri.edu/live.