Among the nearly 300 students who are set to graduate from Missouri Southern State University on Saturday are a pair with a special connection — Rose Dominguez and her mother, Virginia Wiseman.
“I thought it was awesome,” Dominguez said of sharing the milestone with her mother. “I made sure (that) for our graduation announcements, we took pictures together and we created announcements together. I kind of embraced it.”
Wiseman, of Carterville, was 50 years old when she first enrolled at Crowder College about five years ago. A single mother with five daughters, she said entering the post-secondary education atmosphere for the first time as a nontraditional student was a little daunting.
“You’re not sure if you can keep up with the studies, and you’re not sure how you’ll be accepted either,” she said. “But I found out there were several students who were 40 and over, and there were a lot of young people who were really nice.”
Wiseman eventually transferred to Missouri Southern to finish her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She occasionally ran into Dominguez around the campus, and the two realized only a few months ago that they were set to graduate at the same time — purely a coincidence, Wiseman said.
“She’s kind of been a strength for me through the years,” Wiseman said of her daughter. “She’s always been my little stronghold.”
Dominguez, also of Carterville, enrolled at Missouri Southern in 2007 as an art education major and later switched to elementary education. She finished her student teaching in Carl Junction on Thursday, and she plans to substitute teach during the spring semester as she looks for a full-time teaching position.
Dominguez said she is both excited and nervous to finally be a university graduate.
“It’s really exciting to be done being the student, and now I get to be the teacher,” she said. “But at the same time, that’s nerve-racking because now I’m in charge of 26 kids and making sure they learn all the concepts and knowledge they need at that age.”
Wiseman currently works part time, and she hopes to put her degree to use — and possibly get her foot in the door — by volunteering at organizations such as Lafayette House or Ozark Center. But for now, she looks forward to walking across the stage at Saturday’s commencement exercises.
“I’m excited because I’ve had to work really hard,” she said. “I couldn’t take the full agenda because I had to work, and I still had children at home up to this last year. It was really a lot of work for me, and I feel really happy that I finished.”
Wiseman said no one should be discouraged from pursuing a college degree because of age.
“Don’t be afraid to do it because there’s always something new to learn,” she said.
COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES at Missouri Southern State University are set for 10 a.m. Saturday in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.