By Ethan Sirles
On Dec. 2, more than 1,300 Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) students will receive their degrees as they cross the graduation stage and celebrate their academic success. Among the diverse group of graduates is Diane Gentry, from Lexington, who will be finishing her education as she prepares to celebrate her 60th birthday.
Gentry started working toward a college degree right after graduating high school. She initially got an associate degree from Lexington Community College, then began working on her bachelor's at the University of Kentucky. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, she had to put a pause on her education.
“I stopped to have a child, then started back again,” said Gentry. “Then my mom had a stroke, and then she had dementia and Alzheimer's, so I left school to take care of her.”
After taking time to focus on her family, since she already had an associate degree in accounting, Gentry decided to forego finishing her bachelor’s degree to start her career in finance.
Then, while still working full-time, Gentry enrolled at EKU in the fall of 2021 to finish what she began several years before.
“I've always wanted to become a counselor,” she said. “After I got my associate degree, I decided to go on with accounting, but my heart has always been in the psychology field.”
Gentry said, though she has had a long and successful career in finance, her passion has always been listening to and helping others. With her newly minted psychology degree, Gentry is looking forward to new possibilities.
“Whether it’s something as a volunteer, shadowing someone or actually getting employment, I’m just going to look at my options,” she said.
Gentry said going back to school after several years while working full time was a challenge, but she was determined to reach her goal. She hopes her story can be an inspiration to other people wondering if they should finish, or start, their education—no matter their age.
“Don’t delay. But even if you do delay, don’t think you’re ever too old to start back,” she said. “If you have a goal you want to fulfill, as long as you have breath in your body, go ahead and do it.”
Gentry added being able to complete a degree online helped make her education possible because she was able to structure a schedule around her own needs.
“Online really does help someone who's working full time, because you don't have to worry about going to class and fitting it into your work schedule,” she said.
EKU offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, certificate and non-degree programs fully online, in fields such as psychology, business, education, criminal justice, nursing and many others. Whether starting or continuing an education, EKU offers flexible learning options for any schedule. For more information about online education, visit EKU Online.