Rhonda and Eric Hodges always knew they would graduate from college — they just didn’t know when, and they didn’t expect to graduate together. Married since 1995, the couple graduated from UNC Greensboro’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) – Online program on Friday, December 10, 2021 at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“Education has always been a priority for us. Our parents are college graduates, and we started college right out of high school,” said Rhonda. “At the time, college just wasn’t a good fit for us, so Eric joined the U.S. Navy, and I started a career in financial services.”
While the pair took classes throughout the years, they were focused primarily on raising their three children. When their youngest graduated from high school, however, their schedules opened up. The pandemic restrictions also happened to mean no more long work commutes, allowing more flexibility to complete their degrees while working full-time.
UNCG’s 100 percent online BLS degree program provided the flexibility they needed while matching their interests and career goals. Still, working full-time while earning a bachelor’s degree was not easy.
“We pushed ourselves and each other, to show up and not give up. Because we were in the same program, we were able to learn from each other’s classes, which really added to our overall learning experience,” Rhonda said.
They never expected to graduate at the same time, but when Eric learned that Rhonda had only three classes remaining to graduate, he took on the extra load of taking five courses so they could graduate together.
Now, they anticipate their degrees will give them a more competitive edge in the workforce. More than opening up new career possibilities, however, graduating together is especially meaningful for them as a couple — a couple who have known each other since childhood.
“We are fulfilling the hopes we’ve always had for ourselves, the expectations of our parents, and honoring the sacrifices of our ancestors,” said Rhonda. “We have always pursued education and knowledge, and achieving our degrees is another stop along this lifelong journey of learning.”
Story by Elizabeth Keri, College of Arts & Sciences
Photograph courtesy of Rhonda and Eric Hodges