Taking the Long Way Home

By Lori McLemore

Sometimes life takes a detour from the original plan. For Kelley Weaver, the path to her college commencement took 34 years.

2016-Kelly-Grad-656Weaver is a proud graduate of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and participated in Walton’s commencement in May 2016. Her bachelor’s degree in personnel management, however, reflects the date she finished her degree – 1982.

A Little Rock native, Weaver left the University of Arkansas and returned to live in Little Rock in 1981. She completed her degree requirements through a correspondence course. It seemed anti-climatic to travel back to Fayetteville for the formal commencement.

Weaver began working at Dillard’s soon after completing her degree and has built a career there. She currently works as a user services support analyst.

“I was just ready to be finished with school and move on with my life,” Weaver said. Years later she regretted missing that experience.

“I am an eight year pancreatic cancer survivor; my cancer journey has changed me,” Weaver said. “I realized during this journey there are things I want to do … I call it ‘my list.’  As I got older, one thing I regretted was not walking for my diploma. My main motivation was turning a regret into a memory.”

2016-Kelly-Grad-653Joined by family and longtime friends, Weaver trekked back to Fayetteville to don her cap and gown and walk across the stage to formally be recognized as a Walton grad.

It was a long detour, but one worth waiting for.

“Walking in the graduation ceremony meant so much to me,” Weaver said.  2016-Kelly-Grad-652“I can now say one of my regrets in life is no longer a regret but a cherished memory. It was a sense of accomplishment. I wish my parents had lived long enough to see me participate in the commencement ceremony and walk across the stage on May 14, 2016.”