Kentucky State University graduating senior Marilyn Bailey has lived a full life between the time she started her degree and finished it. She began in 1964. Fifty-four years have passed.

Her passion to complete the degree never went away and she joins the Kentucky State University class of 2018 May 12.

“It’s a journey that I am glad that I took, and I am proud of my accomplishment of completing what I started,” Bailey said. “It taught me age does not have to be a hindrance to obtain any goal if you want it bad enough, and I did.”

The 71-year-old lives in Florida and completed her psychology degree online.

“One challenge I encountered is the face-to-face interaction, being that I am a people person,” Bailey said. “I encountered some nice peers online, but it would have been nice to have met them.”

Bailey said taking the classes online required focus, dedication, a drive to succeed and eliminating distractions.

“It was totally up to me to stay on task,” Bailey said. “I think this type of study made me challenge myself to excel outside the classroom.”

Her daughter was one source of inspiration for Bailey.

“I believe in education and stressed that to my daughter, who finished at Tuskegee (University),” Bailey said. “Upon retirement, I vowed I would go back and finish what I started so many years ago. Kentucky State is where I started and where I wanted to finish.”

Bailey used her pursuit to challenge her granddaughter.

“I challenged my granddaughter not to allow Nana to outdo her,” Bailey said. “That really was not a serious challenge since she is a highly intelligent young lady. “

Bailey said Dr. Cindy Glass, Dr. Jonathan Sharp and Dr. Tierra Freeman provided motivation along the way.

“Their words of encouragement and direction helped me fulfill my dreams of obtaining a degree,” Bailey said.

“Mrs. Bailey is the definition of persistence,” Freeman said. “Not even a hurricane deterred her from obtaining her goal.”

Bailey didn’t have time for a hurricane. She had a degree to earn.

“Florida was hit by a hurricane last year and I was without power for a week,” Bailey said. “I went anywhere that I could hook up Wi-Fi, the library, Planet Smoothie, Starbucks or Barnes & Noble, to do my assignments.”

Glass said Bailey consistently performed above expectations in her sociology courses.

“She is fully engaged with the course content and is consistently a high achiever,” Glass said “It has been a delight to work with her over the past few years. She will be missed on my course rosters, but I am very happy for her as she reaches the milestone of earning her degree at Kentucky State.”

Sharp said Bailey is a determined and driven student.

“Marilyn has always been focused and not afraid to ask questions,” Sharp said. “Marilyn is a great example for other students to follow and emulate.”

Bailey said some have questioned her desire to spend her leisure time studying but she’s enjoyed the pursuit of her goal.

“My returning to school was purpose driven and in order for me to fulfill this purpose, I had to be determined and focused,” Bailey said. “The more I studied, the more my gray matter opened to absorb the information required.”