A "Bright Future" -- Woman Graduates Friday after Taking One Course at a Time for 11 Years
JSU News Bureau
JACKSONVILLE -- July 31, 2001 -- A woman who took one college course at a time for 11 years will graduate from JSU Friday night, and attending well-wishers will include her four daughters and a son-in-law who also graduated from JSU.
Photo: Steve Latham
“The day I took my last final exam was so exciting,” said Linda Bright. “I just thought back through all those years and felt the excitement.
“My husband, Elbert, is so proud of me. He’s also hoping I won't pick up another book for awhile.”
Bright will graduate with honors and a near-perfect 3.92 grade point average. She’s receiving a Bachelor of Science in finance.
“All through the years, it popped into my mind to go to college, but that was kind of scary because I had been out of school since 1963 -- so long that I was frightened,” recalls Bright of Goshen, who for the past 23 years has worked in JSU’s ROTC department.
“When Bill Stone (son of the late Dr. Ernest Stone, former JSU president) became professor of military science, he encouraged me to take college courses. Then, Mrs. Kitty Stone (wife of Dr. Stone) awarded me the Ernest Stone Scholarship, and I began taking one course at a time,” she said.
Three of her four daughters were attending JSU when she enrolled: Jana and Dana, twin daughters who went on to become JSU coaches following outstanding athletic careers as students; and Audra, who is now an elementary school teacher. Daughter Melanie, the oldest, had already graduated and is now working as a certified public accountant.
Dana’s husband, Ricky Austin, is also a JSU alumnus. And two other sons-in-law attended JSU but graduated at other universities.
“My family and I have always loved Jax State and have been strong supporters. It is a good university. I have enjoyed every class I’ve had, and the professors have had the interest of every student at heart,” she said.
“The scariest thing about college to begin with was the math. I started with a basic refresher course and my math skills just came back. My most difficult course was financial management. I didn’t realize what a difficult major finance was. But I had a lot of great teachers, and I made all As except for three Bs.”
When she graduated from Piedmont High School in 1963, Bright wanted to go to college but also wanted to get married.
“Back then, it was difficult to do both, so I chose to get married,” she said.
She attended Gadsden Business College and later worked at Ft. McClellan before joining the ROTC staff.
Bright remembers the day she walked into math class at the last moment. “It was almost time to start, and all the students looked at me, then straightened up and got ready for class. They thought I was the teacher. I learned a lesson from that -- get there early if you’re an older student, or they’ll think you’re the teacher.”
Looking to the future, Bright is thinking about using her degree one day to join her daughter’s CPA firm.
What advice does Bright offer other adults thinking about college?
“I will say it is never too late to start. You can do it if you start out with a course you enjoy and will do well in.”
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