Enthusiastic Nursing Grad Holds Her Own Commencement

August 16, 2012 / by / 22 Comments

By Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau

With just two more courses to take to complete her master’s degree at GCU, Marian Barry could have participated in graduation ceremonies on campus in May.

But that just didn’t feel right for the 58-year-old Mesa resident.

“I’m not walking if I haven’t gotten it yet,” Barry said. “I felt funny about that.”

So, nearly three months later – with her master’s requirements now complete – she decided to have her own graduation ceremony.

She purchased her cap and gown, found out when her actual diploma was mailed, and then … she waited.

Each day, she checked the mail for her hard-earned certificate of accomplishment. On Aug. 2, when it came, she had a favor to ask her mail carrier.

Marian Barry accepts her GCU diploma from her mail carrier during a makeshift graduation ceremony.

“I asked her, ‘Would you mind presenting me with my diploma?’” Barry said. “I came back out in my cap and gown and she was cracking up. She was a good sport about it.”

Barry had her 83-year-old mother, Joan, snap a photo of the graduation ceremony (“I had to coach her; her hands are a little shaky and I knew we only had one chance at this”). Then the commencement, on a 112-degree day, was complete.

“I’ve been showing that picture to everyone – families, friends, coworkers. They are all like, ‘That’s priceless! Only you would think of something like that,’” Barry said. “It’s getting a great reaction.”

Barry works as a clinical education specialist at Banner Ironwood Medical Center in San Tan Valley. She decided to pursue her master’s degree in nursing leadership after GCU officials came to the hospital and outlined the necessary steps.

She was able to take the first two classes at the hospital, then completed her degree online.

“You’re never too old to continue your education,” said Barry, who got her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Louisiana State University in New Orleans in 1991. “I liked online better because it made me do more and study more and read more. … You have to read the material and know the stuff.”

Barry was so enamored with her online experience at GCU, she now wants to become part of the process and has applied to be an adjunct faculty member with the College of Nursing.

“I’d love to teach at the college level,” Barry said, “just to share my experience and enthusiasm for nursing, because I have lots of that.”

She now has the diploma – and a photo – to prove it.

Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or [email protected].

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22 Responses
  1. Clint

    What a great story. Very cool!

    Aug.17.2012 at 8:31 am
  2. Maria

    Absolutely the best thing I’ve seen all summer!!

    Aug.17.2012 at 1:32 pm
  3. Burbank

    Way to go graduate number 49,487!

    Aug.17.2012 at 1:39 pm
  4. JR

    That is so awesome!! Congratulations on your achievement Marian!!

    Aug.17.2012 at 1:51 pm
  5. Cheryl

    This is a great story!

    Aug.18.2012 at 4:33 pm
  6. Elyse

    Go, Mare! You are truly awesome! So proud of you!

    Sep.21.2012 at 12:48 pm
  7. Robyn Patton

    Congratulations! You are an inspiration to me and thanks for reminding us that it is never to late to continue our education.

    Oct.05.2012 at 12:11 pm
  8. Crystal Graham

    Great Job!!!! Your never too old to learn something new!

    Oct.05.2012 at 2:49 pm
  9. Margaret

    Way to go Mariam!!So proud of you!!You have proven to us that education has no age limit and continuous learning keeps us in line.

    Oct.05.2012 at 3:51 pm
  10. linda spaine

    Way to go Marian!! I may be holding my own graduation here in Michigan myself!

    Oct.05.2012 at 4:33 pm
  11. Freda

    Way to go Marian!!! I can’t wait for my big day, and you’re right, you’re not too old to continue your education. I’m 58 as well and striving for my Reading Specialist certificate.

    Oct.05.2012 at 5:39 pm
  12. Kathryn

    WOW, way to go Marian! I am so inspired. I am doing my RN-BSN at GCU and am loving the experience. I will turn 56 next month and it is great to see that I am not alone. Thank you.

    Oct.05.2012 at 5:57 pm
  13. Rebecca Elisa Watson

    This is a great story.
    Rebecca Elisa Watson

    Oct.05.2012 at 10:38 pm
  14. Yvonne


    Congratulations! Your story is so enlightening! I will be sharing it with everyone I know. Goodluck!

    Oct.05.2012 at 10:48 pm
  15. Cathy Dugan

    I loved your graduation photo. Sometimes the least amount of fanfare leads to the greatest memories in life. I am proud of you and your accomplishments.

    Oct.06.2012 at 2:49 pm
  16. Blossom Tande

    Congrats! We are never too old to give or receive God’s blessings.

    Oct.07.2012 at 7:42 am
  17. Iris


    Great Story, and best of luck pursing a faculty member path! :)
    It sounds like you would make a great nursing educator.
    Iris :)

    Oct.07.2012 at 9:17 am
  18. Donna Harcourt

    That was awesome! Very inspirational!

    Oct.08.2012 at 11:15 pm
  19. Mary Tavares

    Congrats Marian, I’m real proud of you. I started to college at GCU online at the young age of 74. Now I am still going.

    Oct.10.2012 at 11:53 am
  20. Michele Morton

    Hope to join you soon Marian only 3 more courses at GCU. Congrats

    Oct.12.2012 at 3:35 pm
  21. Trisha Peterson

    This is a great story! I love that you gave yourself a ceremony and recognized your accompliments.

    Oct.19.2012 at 2:23 am
  22. Rebecca Elisa Watson

    December 15, 2012
    Marian, you are inspiring. I am also a recent online class student. I just completed my M.Ed.TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)and am hoping to attend graduation at GCU in May 2013 to walk with my class. I am waiting for my diploma to arrive this coming week or the following.
    Rebecca Elisa Watson

    Dec.15.2012 at 6:30 pm
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