Betty Ann Duvall, who died in October at age 62, will receive a posthumous associate degree in business administration on Saturday, December 15, during commencement exercises at Indiana Wesleyan University's main campus in Marion, Indiana.
Her family will attend commencement exercises, and her husband, Benny Duvall, will accept the degree in her stead.
Duvall, who lived in Frankfort, Kentucky, attended classes at IWU's Louisville Education Center.
"Betty started college at age 60 to fulfill her dream of earning an associate degree," said Dr. MaryAnn Searle, regional dean for IWU in Kentucky and southern Indiana. "She worked hard, drove an hour each way to class, developed her writing and public speaking skills, and became an inspirational role model to the younger students in her cohort."
Duvall's illness lasted only about three weeks after her diagnosis. She died of cancer on October 5.
"It will be the greatest honor of my entire life," Benny Duvall said. "We had 28 years of a beautiful marriage, and for me to do this is such an honor that I am overwhelmed, and for the school to do this is overwhelming me. And I cannot thank the school enough, her classmates, the dean, the staff, for what they are doing for her."
Duvall's classmates knew her as a dedicated student and a good friend. Members of her IWU cohort attended her funeral at Cropper Baptist Church in Cropper, Kentucky.
Fellow student Richard Price spoke at the funeral.
"She had her own unique way of communicating," Price recalled of Duvall. "You didn't hardly know she was there at times, and then when she spoke up, you knew she was in the house. She was in that room. Because she had that type of power."
Price recalls that the class was devastated the night they found out Duvall had cancer: "It was tough to get through class that night. We stood up and we had prayer with her. MaryAnn came up, the dean, and she got another instructor that was a pastor…it was tough. Unbelievable."
Price said he uses Betty Duvall as an example to people who are not sure they could make their own way through college.
"I would say, 'Look. I went to school with an individual that was up in age, that was not only older, but did not have some of the skills most people would think you would need to be successful in college.' I would say, 'Look. Betty Duvall is the example that it can be done.' "
"Do not think that you can never do anything in life," Benny Duvall said. "It is never, ever too late to accomplish your goals."
Benny Duvall will accept the associate degree awarded to Betty Duvall at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 15, at the IWU Chapel Auditorium in Marion, Indiana. Her cohort will receive their degrees at the same time. A total of 1,998 students are scheduled to graduate in ceremonies scheduled for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of The Wesleyan Church committed to liberal arts and professional education. Over 3,000 students are enrolled in traditional programs on the main campus in Marion, Indiana. Nearly 12,500 adult learners study at education centers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, and online.