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The Journey to Graduation

Each student who walks across the stage to shake Dean Lacy Ford’s hand as they conclude their studies in the College of Arts and Sciences has their own story of the journey to graduation. Myriad family, friends and faculty helped them get to that point. Papers and presentations paved the road to graduation. The journey undoubtedly included rigorous study sessions and more than a few coffee breaks along the way.

On May 11, William Cartwright will walk across the stage in Colonial Life Arena to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. At 62 years old, his journey to commencement looks a bit different than most. This first-generation college graduate spent 36 years in law enforcement serving the people of Orangeburg and Calhoun counties, including two enlistments in the South Carolina National Guard from 1980-1986 and 2003-2006.

Cartwright began working toward his degree in 2012, taking one class at a time because during the day he worked a full-time job as Sargent for the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Police Division. Though online classes may have been an easier choice, Cartwright enjoyed engaging with classmates and professors face-to-face. He drove from Orangeburg to the Columbia campus each day to soak up all that his professors could offer, staying late for tutoring and study groups. His journey took some time, but ultimately, he reached the destination of graduation.

When asked what comes after May 11, Cartwright says, “I’m not done yet.” His journey of learning and service continue through his own life and through the lives of the people he inspires with his persistence. 

Each journey to graduation looks different, but as students move forward with a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, they find commonality in their continued passion for learning, ability to adapt and confidence to take on the challenges of our modern world.


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