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Never Too Late to Graduate

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05/30/2024
Linda Allen seated in front of the large "W" sign at the entrance to campus, flanked by a grandson and granddaughter, both young adults
Among those attending Linda Allen's graduation from the UW in June were two grandchildren who are also UW alums — Christopher Morgan (2015) and Allison Morgan Richert (2017) — pictured above with Allen.

When Linda Allen graduated from the University of Washington in June, she was cheered on by her children, their spouses, and four grandchildren — two of whom are Husky alumni. At age 83, Allen earned her BA in Integrated Social Sciences (ISS), an online bachelor’s degree program in the UW College of Arts & Sciences. The program is designed for working professionals and other learners of all ages.

head shot of UW 2024 graduate Linda Allen
Linda Allen

Allen started college in 1959 in West Virginia, completing a certificate of dental hygiene and working as a dental hygienist for six years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. She later worked full time. Two years ago, she enrolled in the ISS program to focus fully on academics. Here she answers a few questions about her ISS experience.

Why were you interested in completing your degree at this point in your life?

It has always been a dream of mine. In the early 1990s, after a divorce and a move to the Seattle area, I took some classes through the [now defunct] UW Evening Degree Program with the thought of finishing a degree. But working full time with a teenager still at home, I felt that I was putting too much pressure on myself and decided to not continue my education at that time. I sometimes say that the reason I didn't finish my degree was that life got in the way — but every part of that life has been special.   

Why did you choose the Integrated Social Sciences program? 

First, I really wanted to finish my degree from a prestigious university. When I was ready to retire (for the last time), I started looking at programs at the UW. I had moved from Bellevue to Ferndale to be closer to my daughter and son-in-law, so the online ISS program appealed to me, and I was fascinated by the integrated nature of the program. I realized this program would let me study various issues from different perspectives.   

What area of study in ISS has interested you the most?

When I started the program, I was interested in women's rights, climate change, poverty, and homelessness.  I quickly narrowed my focus to the crisis that is facing our natural environment. Since I feel that it was my generation and those generations that followed mine who were the ones to create our current environmental issues, I feel it is also our responsibility to start finding ways to slow and reduce the damage.

 

I especially loved the discussion forums and felt that, in many ways, students were more willing to ask and answer questions than they might have been in an in-person setting.

Linda Allen BA, Integrated Social Sciences, 2024
What has surprised you about the ISS program?

I found that, as an online program, ISS offered the advantage of interacting with a diverse group of students. I especially loved the discussion forums and felt that, in many ways, students were more willing to ask and answer questions than they might have been in an in-person setting.

My academic journey has taken many twists and turns but these last two years in the ISS program have been exciting, eye-opening, sometimes frustrating, but always meaningful. The fact that the UW College of Arts & Sciences has embraced an online program like ISS is gratifying. The caliber of my education has been top-notch. 

What would you tell others who think it’s too late to go back to school?

It is never too late to follow a dream. I am extremely proud of my accomplishment and grateful that I had the opportunity to finish my degree at UW. I have been humbled by the comments from classmates who tell me that I am an inspiration to them. I feel that, if nothing else, I have encouraged my classmates to understand that an education is a thing to cherish.

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