DENTON, Texas - A grandmother who put her own life on hold to take care of her family will finally graduate college soon. She’s 67 years old and will finally walk the stage at the University of North Texas.
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine,” said Linda Parker.
Parker’s journey began in 1968 when she graduated high school and went off to college for the first time.
“I didn’t feel like I had the support system to help me get through it and I struggled. I ended up dropping out,” she said.
She got married, had two kids and started working. Her education was put on hold until now.
“After I walk in May I’ll have a three-week class to complete, a five-week class and then an eight-week class to complete. And then I’ll be done,” she said.
Over the years, Parker has tried several times to finish her degree but life has always gotten in the way.
In 1991 she had a stroke. And in 2005 her 33-year-old son was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away.
“So that was difficult to overcome. It put things on hold for a while. After we were able to get beyond that, I think it makes you stronger because you don’t know how much time you have left,” she said. “It makes you want to pursue your dreams even more.”
Now retired at 67 she’s achieving her dream while living with her daughter and her great-niece, who’s also in school at UNT.
“It’s kind of fun to see how sometimes we have the same struggles. We’re like, ‘Oh we both have a paper due tonight,’” laughed her great-niece Nija Bradford.
The family is making a mark on campus. Parker’s daughter also works at UNT, her son-in-law is in school to get his principal certification and two of her grandchildren and her great-niece go there.
“It’s a family affair. We bleed green. Go Mean Green!” said Teresa McKinney, Parker’s daughter.
It’s no surprise McKinney is the one who inspired her mother to finish what she started.
“I want to see her walk across the stage. She’s supported me all three times I’ve walked across the stage. I’m finally able to give back and be there to support her,” she said.
Parker is set to graduate with a 4.0. After graduation, she hopes to work part-time for a non-profit organization that helps people with Alzheimer’s, the disease that ended her mother’s life.
“As long as you have breath in your body, work toward those goals. Don’t leave this world with things unaccomplished,” she said.