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92-Year Old Earns Union Diploma

By Dr Marcia Hawkins

August 14, 2020

In the fall of 1945, Opal Clark Tye became a member of the Bulldog family at Union College. 75 years later, she is now a member of the alumni association. “By authority vested in me by the Board of Directors of Union College, I now convey to you the Bachelor of Science degree in General Studies, with all rights and privileges pertaining thereto. Union College President Marica Hawkins virtually conferred Tye’s degree on Wednesday. Tye, dressed in the college cap and gown, was all smiles as her diploma was already displayed on the wall of her bedroom at Christian Care Communities in Corbin. This spring, while many of us were squatting in our homes in the midst of a global pandemic, Hawkins heard Tye’s story for the first time and after some research, found she was eligible for a degree. of Union College. “I’m so happy to be able to do this and just thank your family, especially your granddaughter for bringing to our attention that you have enough credits to graduate,” Hawkins told Tye. Tye, then Opal Clark, lost their parents at a very young age. Tye was taken into care at the Methodist Children’s Home in Cedartown, an orphanage in Georgia. In its final year of high school, the orphanage was visited by a special guest, Dr Conway Boatman, president of Union College. “He asked them who was athletic and smart because Union could offer them scholarships to attend. My grandmother said she put her hand up high, ”said Joslyn Flynn, Tye’s granddaughter. At 17, Tye received a full scholarship. She shone on campus, both academically and athletically as a cheerleader. It was at Union that she met Herman Mitchell Tye, the two married in 1949, and she never graduated. Time passed and life went on, Tye raised a beautiful family and was a prominent figure in the local community. Over the years, the degrees and requirements of Union College have changed. “When her granddaughter arrived and prompted us to start looking, we found out that she had a lot of credits to get a general studies degree, but at the time we didn’t have any studies. general, ”said Hawkins. Three quarters of a century in the making, the Georgia orphan finally ticks all the boxes and graduated from Union College.


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