Kentucky State University (KSU) Environmental Studies major Thomas Trivette has been waiting more than 47 years to complete his Bachelor of Science degree, and today is the day. Trivette joined more than 130 students in the Diploma and Recognition Ceremony at Bradford Hall. The Frankfort resident will turn 65 in two weeks.
Trivette, who retired from Toyota Motor Company in Georgetown, Kentucky, nearly eight years ago, believes retirement was “a little overrated” for him.
“I’ve always worked hard and I like to work, but I didn’t have anything to apply myself to at the time,” he said. “One of the biggest regrets that I had — because I had been to three other universities — was not finishing my degree. When things finally fell into place, it came back to me; I wanted to finish what I started long ago.”
Trivette, who is originally from Eastern Kentucky and moved to Frankfort in 1959, graduated from Franklin County High School. He began his college career in 1969 at Eastern Kentucky University. By the end of that year, he joined the Navy where he served two campaigns in the Vietnam War.
“I came back and spent a semester at Western Kentucky University, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up,” he laughed. “I started landscaping, and so forth and later I became interested in school again. I went to the University of Kentucky (UK) to study horticulture and landscape architecture.”
And then, Trivette’s growing family that he lovingly called “interruptions” came along during his studies at UK.
Trivette is married with three children, six grandchildren, and a great-grandson. He is proud to have a daughter who also is a graduate of KSU with a degree in Nursing.
“I was trying to find a creative outlet for what I wanted to do with my studies and protection of the environment that we live in is always something that I have been interested in,” he said. “And when I saw Kentucky State University’s Thorobred boat on the river, which is a floating research laboratory, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea’ because I live on the river. Keeping the quality of the water safe for all my children, grandchildren, and future generations has become a driving passion for me.”
But his passion doesn’t just stop at a bachelor’s degree. Trivette has already enrolled at KSU to continue his graduate studies in January. The newly-minted graduate is excited to jumpstart his research with the faculty in the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems.
“When I asked my mentor, Dr. George Antonius, if he would consider having me back on his team, he was excited, and that made me feel excited,” Trivette said. “I’m excited for the next two years. I know that I’m going to learn a lot.”
Although Trivette and his guests, which included his two brothers, a sister, their spouses, and children, were happy to be a part of the today’s ceremonies, he is looking forward to wearing his full regalia at the graduation in May.
“I’ve got to do the full cap-and-gown walk,” he said proudly. “I have been walking a long time.”