The Class of 2012: More Than 5,000 Working Adult Learners Earn Degrees from Excelsior College

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Seeking career advancement or new opportunities, hundreds of Excelsior College graduates from across the country will converge in Albany, N.Y. on July 13 for Commencement.

Excelsior College
In its 41 year existence, Excelsior College, which offers degree programs in nursing, liberal arts, health sciences, and business and technology, has graduated more than 146,000 adult learners.

On July 13, Alfreda Adams, 56, will walk across the stage at Excelsior College’s Commencement Ceremony – alongside more than three hundred of this year’s nearly 5,200 graduates – for the culmination of an educational journey that began 37 years ago. At age 19, the Columbia, Maryland resident had to leave college to raise eight younger siblings after her mother was struck with multiple sclerosis.

Alfreda’s story is heartwarming, but not unique. Typical Excelsior graduates are working adults balancing jobs, family and college coursework and seeking to improve their lives and advance in their careers. They earned their degrees through online coursework, credit by examination, transferring credit from other institutions and recognized non-collegiate sources.

The average age of this year’s graduate is 37. Thirty four percent are members of the U.S. military and 31 percent are members of minority groups. Graduates hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands, and 26 other nations; 739 are from New York State.

Over three hundred of the graduates and their families will come together for Commencement this Friday, July 13 at 3 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. Economic analyst, noted author and former presidential advisor Robert B. Reich will present the keynote address.

For Alfreda, the path to this day has been tumultuous. Twelve years ago, at age 44, the mother of two first returned to school to become a nurse, only to leave weeks prior to graduation to care for her ailing mother after a cancer diagnosis.

On the advice of an advisor, she transferred to Excelsior after learning the college would accept nearly 90 credits of her nursing education toward a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. She would finish the remaining credits through online courses at Excelsior. With a degree secured, Alfreda can now pursue her life’s calling – to open a creative arts center for sexually abused children.

Other 2012 graduates who typify the Excelsior story include:

  •     Erick Dillard, 47, a veteran and resident of Pensacola, Florida earned his Bachelor of Science in Communication. With his family staring down annual medical bills surpassing $100,000, Dillard returned to school to improve his career prospects. He earned his degree through credit-by-examination and the acceptance of credits from recognized military training.
  •     Kate Elder, 44, an elementary teacher in Cobleskill, New York earned her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. An MIT-educated civil engineer by trade, she changed career paths to spend more time with her growing family.
  •     Keith Taylor, 56, a Demotte, Indiana office paper supply salesman who saw the writing on the wall for his industry after four companies he worked for went bankrupt or resorted to massive layoffs to stay afloat. At age 50, the veteran returned to school for a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies degree to become a more well-rounded employee. He graduates with zero student loan debt and several job offers near his home in northwest Indiana.
  •     Monica Muamba, 45, of Altamont, New York earned her Master of Science in Nursing. When Monica arrived in America from the Congo in 1990, the wife and mother dreamed of supporting her family and helping others, which she now does as a nursing education specialist at Albany Medical Center and the president of the nonprofit Sister to Sister, an organization dedicated to empowering women.
  •     Nadejda Hvoyneva, 44, who moved to the United States from Bulgaria and achieved citizenship in 2010, earned her Bachelor of Science in Business. A business owner in her native country, the Cockeysville, Maryland resident’s education has helped her secure a job as a marketing consultant here in America.
  •     Sergeant Major Henry James, 54, is an MBA graduate from Midland, Georgia whose dream of opening up a restaurant and eventually a food bank for the poor in El Paso, Texas will have to wait a few more years – he deploys to Afghanistan in the coming weeks. His mother, recovering from heart surgery, will travel to Albany to watch him graduate.    

In its 41 year existence, Excelsior College, which offers degree programs in nursing, liberal arts, health sciences, and business and technology, has graduated more than 146,000 adult learners.

For those unable to attend in person, Excelsior will broadcast the Commencement event live on the Web.


Excelsior College is a regionally accredited, nonprofit distance learning institution that focuses on removing obstacles to the educational goals of adult learners. Founded in 1971 and located in Albany, NY, Excelsior is a proven leader in the assessment and validation of student knowledge. It offers more efficient and affordable access to degree completion through multiple avenues: its own online courses and college-level proficiency examinations, and the acceptance in transfer of credit from other colleges and universities as well as recognized corporate and military training programs. Excelsior College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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Mike Lesczinski
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