By Shelby Longland, ‘13

Linda Hutson, C’12, has had her fair share of obstacles to overcome. Growing up in Virginia in the 1960’s, Hutson witnessed and experienced segregation and discrimination that most of her classmates cannot imagine. Her past, though, didn’t diminish her lifelong dream of someday receiving her bachelor’s degree. In 1997, Hutson decided to attend community college to earn her degree, but tragedy struck when her son died unexpectedly. Although she was unable to accomplish her dream of receiving a degree at that time in her life, she never relinquished her goal and in 2009, decided to fulfill it once and for all.

She enrolled in the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies Weekend College program to earn a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. Although the program has challenged Hutson, it has also awarded her countless opportunities she wouldn’t have imagined before enrolling. She explains that the workload for the program is intense, and time management is an extremely difficult task. The program is tailored specifically to working professionals who take classes on Friday nights and Saturdays. It can be very difficult for students to balance schoolwork with life’s other commitments. She says the amazing teachers make it easier, though, claiming that they “never say no” when a student needs help.

As the oldest student in her classes, Hutson’s determination has been an inspiration to all. When people ask her for advice she simply replies, “No matter the age, you must pursue your dreams. There is no time to sit back and wait.” And Hutson is not merely taking classes and doing the required amount of work to earn her degree. Instead, she is taking advantage of the many opportunities that studying at the University of Richmond offers and is excelling in her coursework.

Hutson’s most memorable experience at Richmond was when she had the opportunity to volunteer during President Obama’s visit to campus in September. Apparently she did a good job, because a few weeks later she received a call from the White House requesting her to be a driver for the Presidential motorcade during President Obama’s visit throughout Virginia. She was able to meet the President, which was a dream come true. She recounts that he was very “warm and friendly” even though she was almost too nervous to speak at all! 

Hutson recalls the fateful day in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. She remembers her teachers crying and sending the students home early from school. Now, not only has she had the opportunity to witness an African American become president, but she has also had the opportunity to actually meet him. “It is a very special time in the history of the world,” she says, “and I am glad to be a tiny part of it.”  Hutson credits and thanks the University of Richmond for affording her this opportunity.

The same week of her meeting with President Obama, Hutson was inducted into the Golden Key National Honour Society, an association recognizing excellent college students. She says that at the induction ceremony people thought she was a parent, and were surprised when she was called up to receive her certificate, but Hutson didn’t let these mistaken beliefs belittle her outstanding achievements.

In addition to these accomplishments and opportunities, Hutson says that she has made lasting friendships, and her classmates will attest to that. She explains that the University of Richmond has “changed [her] life in ways that she could not have imagined.” Hutson has witnessed the positive progression of the campaign for racial equality, and uses this fight as inspiration to fulfill her own dreams. Hutson is now working at the investment advisory firm, Lowe Brockenbrough & Company, where she is extremely happy. She is not sure what adventures she’ll pursue after receiving her degree, but the Weekend College program and the School of Professional & Continuing Studies have given Linda Hutson the confidence and reassurance to know that, even at her age, the opportunities are limitless and the possibilities endless.