Colonel Returns to EKU after 38 Years to Finish Degree

Published on May 11, 2023

By Makenzie Winkler

Eastern Kentucky University is holding spring commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 12. 60-year-old Randy Carpenter will graduate with an associate degree in general studies in pursuit of his lifelong learning ambitions.

“I first came to EKU in fall of 1982,” Carpenter said. “However, I didn’t make college my top priority, so my grades suffered. I realized I wasn’t applying myself and decided to hit pause on my college education.”

After leaving EKU, Carpenter began a 29-year career at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, Kentucky. 

“Toyota practices continuous improvement—I learned a lot there,” said Carpenter. “Even if we thought we had perfected a system, we constantly looked for ways to improve our processes. This inspired me to always strive for self-improvement. There is always room for growth.”

After retiring from Toyota in 2017, Carpenter joined his wife, Laura, ’87, in her lifelong dream of being a realtor. Calling on his love for learning, he decided to get his realtor’s license and earned it in just two months.

“I quickly realized that I needed to get my license in drone operation,” explained Carpenter. “Sometimes we needed overhead pictures for the property being sold. I started pursuing my license as a drone pilot—that was the hardest test I’ve taken to date.”

Carpenter’s exploration of different careers and love for learning has taken him on several other interesting paths. From a young age, Carpenter had dreams about being on the radio. As a close second, in 2009, he became a mobile DJ for weddings. Later, from 2018-20, Carpenter reached his dream as a radio DJ. He was on air Wednesday through Saturday on WCYO-FM.

In March of this year, he began pursuing another lifelong dream, voice acting. After learning all he could about the business, he started recording auditions on March 1 for ACX, run by Amazon and attached to Audible. A few weeks later, an author selected him to narrate their book. He just finished recording his voiceover for the book while preparing to graduate.

Carpenter returned to EKU in summer 2021. He started filling his general education requirements and taking classes in areas that interested him, especially in communications. 

“For 38 years, I had regrets about not earning my degree. That’s the good thing about college. With many regrets, you don’t have the opportunity to go back and correct them. With your education, you always can,” said Carpenter

Carpenter says he will always continue to learn something new. EKU has helped satisfy his need for a college education, having known the importance of earning that education. He and his wife instilled a passion for learning in both of their daughters and supported them in earning their college degrees.

Now, Carpenter plans to continue his realty career and voice acting and enjoy the perks of his new title, grandfather. He plans to learn about whatever inspires him most in an effort to continuously improve himself through a pathway of lifelong learning.

“If I could give one piece of advice to someone considering college, I would tell them to make college a high priority,” Carpenter suggested. “Do the homework, listen to your professors and apply yourself. Today, your degree is worth a lot, so you need to invest in yourself through your education.”

EKU students have a variety of interesting and high-demand fields to choose from, including  psychology, nursing, criminal justice, occupational safety, aviation and more. From associate to doctoral degrees, students find support and resources to achieve their educational and career goals at Eastern Kentucky University. To learn more about the many degree options available at EKU, visit