First generation college grad receives diploma at age 62

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) –¬†Hundreds of students reached a major milestone this week, receiving college degrees from the University of New Mexico.

Some students balanced classes with raising families, others are veterans who had to put off school for a while.

Each graduate has a unique story, with hurdles they had to overcome to reach their goals. John Hutton is one of those students.

Hutton is a driver for UNM campus tours. This week he’s getting some well-deserved congrats from people on campus.

He recently reached a major accomplishment. “I just think it’s a great experience,” Hutton told KRQE News 13. “It has been for me anyway.”

The 62-year-old UNM employee is also a UNM student. “Well actually I started, believe it or not, back in 1973,” Hutton explained. But like so many, he never finished school.

“No one in my family, nor immediate first cousins, aunts, uncles, ever was able to go to school, and so it means a lot to me and it’ll mean a lot to my mother too,” Hutton said.

His mom, now 92, lived with Hutton’s dad through the Great Depression. His father, John Sr., spent 22 years in the Navy, serving in WWII and the Korean War. Getting a degree wasn’t a top priority.

But Hutton, a self-proclaimed history buff was inspired to go back, and took lots of college classes.

“It’s a little intimidating at first of course as an adult, because students are 40 years younger than me, but you know you kind of adjust.”

He took several courses during the evening and on weekends. “By the time I graduate, I’ll probably have about 170 credits,” he laughed.

This week, after 42 years, he’s receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. “For me, actually to be here is a privilege to be able to come to school,” Hutton said. “I didn’t think I’d ever be here to be honest with you.”

He joins nearly 2,000 UNM grads this semester. Each come from different backgrounds, now at the start of a new chapter.

Even after graduation, Hutton said his academic journey isn’t over. Next semester he’ll go to graduate school.

“I’m really looking forward to that,” he said.

Hutton hopes his story will inspire others like him to not give up on higher education. He wanted to thank lots of tutors and professors who went out of their way to help him reach his goal.

“Education is something nobody can ever take away from you, that’s how I look at it,” Hutton said.

His biggest hurdle, he said, was math.

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