The feels

This Grandmother Enrolled at Cheyney University, Lived on Campus and Just Graduated as the Class’ Valedictorian

This Grandmother Enrolled at Cheyney University, Lived on Campus and Just Graduated as the Class’ Valedictorian

Rhonda Davis had a simple theme for her graduation speech, “Nothing changes, if nothing changes.” The 60-year-old grandmother knows this firsthand.

When many adults her age were considering retirement, Davis determined that she wanted to attend college at Cheyney University. According to Penn State’s Daily Collegian, she shared it was something she wanted to do since she visited Cheyney’s campus back in 1970. 

On Saturday she did more than accomplish her goal when she walked the stage as the valedictorian and the recipient of two degrees. One in fine arts and the other in graphic design. Philly.com reports she had a near perfect grade point average, 3.97.

After becoming a wife, a mother of four and a grandmother of 11, Davis wanted to do something for herself — complete her education. She attended  Community College of Philadelphia where she excelled and earned her associate’s degree. Her high marks paid off as Davis was awarded a scholarship to attend Cheyney. It covered her tuition and fees as well as room and board.

When Davis shared her new goal with her husband, which included her plans to commute to campus from their home in Southwest Philly, instead of supporting her dream, he left her. Still… she persisted. 

Given her new living situation Davis made the decision to move on campus and fully submerse herself into the college experience. Unlike her husband who didn’t understand her decision, her children and grandchildren did. They threw her a trunk party to send her off with school supplies and items for her new room which was equipped with its on kitchenette and bathroom.

According to the Philly.com, the students looked up to Davis and called her Mama Bear. They knew they could look to her for advice, encouragement and a healthy push to excel in their studies.

“She’s such an inspiration, not only to the students, but to all of us,” said Elisabeth Burton, executive director for campus life and student affairs. “The students follow her around like Mother Goose.”

Davis graduated as valedictorian with two bachelor’s degrees, one in graphic design and another in fine arts.

As for what’s next, she plans to write and illustrate children’s books. But before she does, she’ll accomplish another dream by taking a solo trip across the  country via train. 

When asked what she got out of her collegiate experience Davis summed it up in four words.

“It gave me, me.”

Ms. Davis, you’re an inspiration to us all!

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