For nearly 20 years, Linda Cunningham has been responsible for helping to facilitate and coordinate RIT’s scholarly events, faculty events and graduation ceremonies. But this year, it’s her turn to wear the cap and gown.
“I’m normally a behind-the-scenes person, but I don’t know—you might see me doing cartwheels across that stage,” said Cunningham, a project and event manager for the Office of the Provost who will earn her applied arts and science bachelor’s degree in business management at this year’s ceremonies.
It certainly hasn’t been an easy process for Cunningham, who originally enrolled in college in 1979 but dropped out due to personal circumstances. A single mother, Cunningham raised three children and put each of them through college. Her two oldest children have already graduated college, while her youngest will be graduating from Emerson College just four days before her RIT graduation.
“It’s a big year for us,” said Cunningham. “I was kind of hoping I would graduate before at least one of the kids but I’m definitely not complaining. I’m finally graduating.”
Cunningham’s academic journey began anew when she took a position with RIT’s Academic Affairs office in 1997. After a few years at RIT, Cunningham started to ease back into college education by earning her certificate in exercise science.
“I wanted to see if I could really achieve this goal, between raising a family and working a full-time job,” she said.
Cunningham then completed her associate degree in applied science. After taking a brief break, she continued working toward the completion of her bachelor’s degree. And at long last, her journey will reach its end in May when she graduates from RIT as an Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar.
“It’s amazing how much time is consumed by school,” Cunningham said. “With my newfound free time, I think I’d really like to volunteer in the Rochester community and get a social life.”