TAMPA, Fla. – Many students in the Tampa Bay area will graduate from college this week and start another chapter in life. To be a future graduate, she has found a new direction after a personal tragedy.
For Charlene Barnes, the homework, tests and a lot of study were all worth it.
“There have been times when I thought, ‘oh, I don’t know if I can do this because it’s been a lot of hard work,’ but in the end it was absolutely worth it,” said Barnes.
Barnes enrolled in the accelerated master’s degree program at the University of South Florida (USF) studying to be a nurse. At 68, she is the oldest graduate of the spring semester.
“For anyone who goes back to school, it’s great,” Barnes said. “Very rewarding, and I think it will change your life.”
Barnes graduated from the University of California at San Diego nearly 45 years ago and his career has specialized in technology in financial services. However, his mission to learn has become personal.
“My son died of bacterial meningitis in 2015,” Barnes said. “He went to the hospital because he had flu-like symptoms, they diagnosed him with the flu and sent him home. The next morning he was dead. “
Barnes wanted to know why it happened, how it happened and how the hospital system worked. She is now ready to graduate, looking to continue in the public health arena.
“I never thought I really enjoyed being a student,” Barnes said. “I didn’t do it the first time, but the second time I really found it much more engaging. You have a lot more time. Your priorities are different. I wanted to learn “.
For those who see themselves in Barnes and are interested in returning to class, he would tell them to do so.
“You know, you can never stop learning,” Barnes said.
The USF will award more than 6,400 degrees during the early spring from May 6 to May 8. The ceremonies include recipients of approximately 4,843 undergraduate degrees, 1,295 masters and 297 doctorates.