An exceptional 78-year-old woman, Vivian Cunningham has fulfilled her lifelong dream after earning a Bachelor’s degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
Vivian Cunningham who is now a great-grandmother spent six years earning her degree. She studied Liberal Studies and had the privilege of walking across the stage to receive her Bachelor’s degree in front of her entire family.
“I say follow your dreams, don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done, keep pushing and keep God in the plan. “If I could have done cartwheels across the stage, I would have,” Cunningham told Today.
She had spent 29 years working as a custodian, and later, the head of the mailroom for the Alabama Power Company, according to the outlet. She later retired from the company in 1992 and thereafter and went on to earn her associate’s degree in paralegal studies from Virginia College, United States, Today reported.
Vivian Cunningham also inherited sewing skills from her grandmother and great-grandmother, she studied the trade in school and sewed for family and friends before getting a job at the Alabama Power Company.
After her retirement, Vivian Cunningham had a lot of extra time on her hands and her passion for learning remains. So she enrolled for another degree at Samford University. At the time of enrollment, she already has two children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons) tells us to take some classes and do something instead of just sitting down and being retired, so I kept going. I enjoyed being in the classroom,” she explained to the outlet.
Vivian Cunningham’s accumulated credits, a Samford brochure and welcoming staff set her on the path to the liberal studies degree she completed in 2021, six years after starting.
“There were some times I wanted to give up,” she narrated. She however recalled that a voice inside her said “I’m not going back – I’m just tired,” another would answer, “Go on back to school, just keep on going.”
She took night classes and also virtual classes during her program. “It was kind of hectic for me because I didn’t know too much about technology, so I had to have my daughter help me with that to learn to do it virtually,” she recalled of remote learning.
She noted that her family — specifically, her daughter Tarra Barnes, son Donald Cunningham and son-in-law, retired Army Col. Rob Barnes — were all very supportive and kept her motivated.
“They kept pushing me,” she said.
While Cunningham was completing her university degree, she inspired her daughter, Tarra, who had a Bachelor’s degree at Averett University and a master’s degree at Webster University, to also return to school and earn her PhD at North Carolina A&T, the outlet reported.
Cunningham has inspired a lot of people to move further in their education no matter their ages. She is considering going further for her Master’s degree, Today reported.
“I love to read to get more knowledge. I really love learning,” she told the outlet.