Around 3,700 students are receive their diploma at the University of Arkansas (May 11), beating last year’s record by about 1,000 graduates.
For 18-year old Raymond Walter, graduating is a challenge accomplished. Walter completes a triple major in math, physics and economics. He said he skipped sixth and seventh grade and started taking college classes in high school.
"I love learning, that's certainly the case," Walter said.
He’s diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and he said he isn’t done quite yet. He plans to pursue doctoral degrees in math and physics.
“At which point, I'll probably be obtaining two PHDs when most people are just getting a bachelor's," Walter said.
For others, it means leaving the campus life behind and beginning a new chapter.
Anne Rohr received her degree in International Relations, Latin American Studies and Spanish. She’s a former Rogers High School graduate before attending the UA.
"It's sad knowing that my time here is coming to an end, but hopefully I’ll be able to come in the future," Rohr said.
Nicholas Linn majored in International Relations, Middle Eastern Studies. He took part in a study abroad last summer in Yemen.
“It feels weird that I’m graduating,” Linn said. “It doesn't feel like four years but I’m excited about it, excited to go to grad school eventually.”
Sarah Hinton is a testimony that it's never too late. She received her bachelor's degree in Human Resources at the age of 56.
One of her daughters Celia Anderson was a first generation college student and enrolled at the UA in 1997 on a basketball scholarship.
Hinton is a single mom with two daughters. She said one of her daughters took the initiative to fill out her UA application, financial aid and send her junior college transcript.
"She called me and said 'mama you have been accepted into University of Arkansas, your classes start Monday,'” Hinton said.
At first Hinton was reluctant and said she didn’t have the time. However, she said she decided to get on her knees and pray.
"I promised my mom that I would get my degree before she died,” Hinton said. “It took me a long time to do that because life happens, I got kids, I had to take care of them and now it’s my time."
Hinton said she was overwhelmed and fearful when she stepped on campus but her family and professors inspired her to fulfill her dream. Now, as a graduate she inspires others.
"Never stop dreaming because you can do it if your mind conceive it your heart believe it you will achieve it," Hinton said.
Walter said his dad stayed with him in his dorm Monday through Friday and on the weekends they go to the family farm in Mount Home.
Walter said people with muscular dystrophy have a short life expectancy. He said he enjoys life to the fullest and won’t waste the time he has left.
"Most likely I have limited time to do what I want to do, I'm going to get things done as fast as possible,” Walter said. “I don't like to waste time, I don't want redundancy, I want to be able to work and do what I want to do."
May 2013 graduates can expect their names to be added to Senior Walk in the Spring or Summer 2014.