Lifelong learner earns KSU degree at 71
KENNESAW, Ga. (May 26, 2020) — For thousands of Kennesaw State students each semester, graduation represents a defining moment. It is an opportunity to reflect on their entire educational journey – the mentors they found, the friendships they made and the opportunities they seized. In recognition of that, we are spotlighting students who have completed their final semesters at KSU. Hughey Jeffries, who earned a degree in political science, shares his journey at KSU.
Hughey Jeffries set out to complete a certificate program from Kennesaw State University and wound up graduating with a bachelor’s degree as an Honors student.
Jeffries had been a KSU student since 2011 while running his own consulting business full time, taking classes mostly part time and mixing in a couple of semesters of full course loads. At the age of 71, he earned his political science degree this month – 50 years after receiving his first college degree, in chemistry from Clark Atlanta University in 1970.
“I won’t even try to put into words how much it means to me,” Jeffries said. “I get a satisfaction out of making people understand that my age isn’t really an issue.”
Jeffries retired after 28 years as a scientist with a multinational personal care corporation and went into business for himself as a data analyst and research consultant, providing solutions for businesses and organizations to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively. He said that he chose to take college classes “just to keep my mind sharp,” and his interest in politics drew him to Kennesaw State’s certificate in professional politics.
“I had no intention of getting a degree,” Jeffries said. “My intention was only to get the certificate, but having a lot of good professors and classes at KSU motivated me to continue on as a student.”
Not only did Jeffries earn a degree, but he did it as a student in the Honors program. He valued the academic rigor of KSU Journey Honors College, being actively engaged in smaller-sized classes taught by professors committed to challenging him.
“I feel an obligation to always do my best,” Jeffries said. “I guess I’m representing the old folks, I’m representing African-Americans, I’m representing a lot of folks, so if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it as best you can.”
Jeffries credited two Honors instructors for being particularly influential to him: Mia Oberlton, a lecturer of health promotion and physical education, and Teresa Raczek, an anthropology professor and the chair of the Department of Geography and Anthropology. The respect was mutual, as Oberlton explained that Jeffries stood out in her Foundations for Healthy Living class.
“Hughey was always so gracious and provided such invaluable wisdom and insight from his life and the relevance of making healthy decisions early on,” Oberlton said. “He talked about how he could use the information learned from the class to better his lifestyle. Hughey is an awesome person and was a fabulous student who always gave 100 percent in the class.”
Raczek, who taught Jeffries in the Intro to Anthropology class, added: “We discussed a lot of complex theories and difficult subjects, and Hughey brought a great deal of thoughtful insight to those discussions. He often would untangle a complicated matter into simple parts, and the other students really appreciated his perspective.”
With his political science degree in hand, Jeffries joked that “at 71, I’m not going to go out and run for political office,” nor does he plan to start a new career. However, Jeffries is pondering his next endeavor – which he said could be to take more college classes, possibly in cybersecurity.
“Lifetime learning is very important, and I’m just beginning,” Jeffries said. “This is an accomplishment, but it’s not an end. It’s just a question of what your next thing is going to be.”
– Paul Floeckher
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.