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84-year-old receives diploma 63 years later

Carol Livingston started college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1955
Carol Livingston started college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1955, but was unable to take the classes she wanted to her last semester.
Published: May. 14, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - For Carol Livingston the graduation this year was long-awaited. Livingston graduated from Alliance, Nebraska. She went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1955 to get her Bachelor’s in Business. Livingston says she’s a Nebraska kid and there was no other thought than to go to NU.

When talking about arriving on campus Livingston said, “I was excited, I was happy. I came with a classmate from high school, so I had a pal, I lived in the dorms, I joined a sorority. You know, life was good.”

While she was having a great time studying at the University, she also had an exciting personal life; she got married between her junior and senior year of college, and quickly got pregnant with her first son.

“I was not allowed to take the courses that I wanted to take that last semester to finish. I had already finished all of my requirements, I could have taken anything. It was suggested to me that I go to the teacher college because I could get permission because they did that sort of thing,” Livingston said.

But Livingston didn’t want to be a teacher. She wanted to go to school for business, and take voluntary and upper level business classes. So, with one semester of college left, she didn’t graduate.

Livingston and her husband moved to California. Within three years, they had four kids. When her four kids started getting older, she wanted to help pay for their tuition, so she went back to college herself. She went to California State University to get her Bachelor’s, and although she only had one semester left at UNL, she had to take four semesters at California State University to complete their standards.

“I just wanted my piece of paper, so just tell me with what I have, what’s the easiest way, the fastest way? Because I had four kids at home to take care of. They thought I needed an attitude adjustment, and I said “No what I really need is a paper. I earned that paper already, and I just need a paper, so just tell me what I can do to get it the fastest.”

After completing undergraduate school, Livingston went on to the University of California, Davis School of Law. She started law school on her 40th birthday and graduated when she was 43, the same year her daughter graduated high school. She practiced law until she was 75-years-old.

“It was worth the wait to go. I mean, having a law degree is so special, and you do wonderful work and you get paid very well,” she said

Livingston was living a fufilled life.

“I wasn’t missing the love of a great man, I wasn’t missing happy, smart, beautiful children, grandkids, I wasn’t missing anything,” she said

But her daughter, Cathy, knew she didn’t have her well-earned diploma from UNL. Cathy told her to call UNL and see if they could do something about it, but Livingston never got around to it. So, her daughter reached out to Chancellor Ronnie Green last fall and told him about her mom’s accomplishments and what happened all those years ago. The chancellor agreed she deserved her diploma. UNL even looked at her records and confirmed she had all the credits she needed to graduate.

On Christmas, Cathy gave her mom a present with red and white pom-poms and other Husker gear, and inside was something Livingston never saw coming.

“I opened it and I wasn’t getting an honorary degree, they’re giving me my degree, and they said your hard-earned and over due degree, and I mean, it was overwhelming,” Livingston said.

During the University’s Spring 2022 commencement ceremony, Livingston was awarded her Bachelor’s in Business, 63 years later. Although she wouldn’t take away any of her past experiences at her other colleges, NU was always her number one.

“This is my school, this is where I went to school, this is where I did my work. This is where I learned about economics, and business, and business administration and ended up in law actually representing business, and then ultimately I was the managing partner and I managed our firm.”

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