Beth Van Hove had been waiting 27 years for this moment.
As holiday music played and visitors began to crowd Hearnes Center for the MU College of Arts and Science graduation ceremony Saturday, Van Hove stood anxiously in the General Studies line with her cap in hand.
“I’m a little nervous,” she admitted. But all nerves aside, she was proud.
Van Hove began her college career in 1981. After a year and a half, she took time off to get married and start a family. “By taking a break, my parents thought I’d never finish,” she said. “But, the support from my husband helped get me through.”
For the past 7 years, Van Hove has attended evening classes offered by MU. The evening classes, which she praises as being beneficial because the instructors are "more geared towards adults," gave Van Hove the opportunity to work towards her degree.
In a room full of almost 500 fellow graduates, she now stood as a mother of five, a wife of 25 years and a recent MU alumni.
Within minutes of arriving and checking in, dozens of graduates had found seats on the floor, heels were taken off and celebratory cheers were let out toward the back of the room. Some graduates debated each other about which side their white tassel should be on, while others joked about how unflattering their black gowns were.
At the end of the biological sciences line, MU graduates Stephanie Carr and Kyla Winn chatted about their journey’s end.
“I’m happy, but a little sad it’s over,” Carr said. This statement sparked a playful argument about how “sad” the moment really was.
“I’m not that sad,” Winn said with a smile. “It was hard … very, very hard.”
Hard as it was, Winn was about to become the first person in her family to graduate college.
As the lines began to move, the graduates positioned their caps — tassels to the right — and entered the ceremony.