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December 15, 2004

ULM Student to Receive Degree at 73

Harold Curry set out to earn his college degree when he was 18 years old. Now, over 50 years later, he will receive his diploma from the University of Louisiana at Monroe on Saturday, December 18 as he graduates with the class of 2004. Curry will graduate with his degree in Construction Management at the age of 73.

The self-proclaimed life-long student says staying active and enjoying learning are the reasons why he is graduating.

"I just want to work," Curry said. " I'm too active to sit in a wheelchair or rocking chair; I just flat out refuse to do it. It's just not my nature to sit. I can not do it."

It all started when he was in his junior year of college during the recession. He quit school then and started working in construction as a pipe welder.

Curry went on to several other jobs in construction and later in life worked at Ford Bacon & Davis until 1999.

He came to ULM in 2000 to take professional development courses.

He toyed with the idea of going back to school to get his degree after leaving Ford Bacon & and Davis, but he wasn't sure. At the urging of his family, he decided to get started on a construction degree so that he could get a contractor's license and start his own business.

"I started taking a few classes, then a few more and eventually decided to go ahead and get a degree," Curry said.

At this point Curry only had 12 hours of elective classes left in order to get his degree. The Director of ULM's School of Construction, Dr. Keith Parker, told Curry he might as well go for it.

"Harold has been an excellent student," Parker said. "One might think that because of his age, he would not mix well with the other students. That has been far from the truth. He has been an active member of Sigma Lambda Chi (construction honor society), participated in guild activities, and has been a force as a group member in each of his classes," Parker said.

Curry was aware that he was always the oldest person in every class, but that did not bother him. He said he didn't feel any different than the other students other than he was picked on a lot by his instructors because he was already a registered engineer.

He has some wisdom to share with those considering a career in construction. "You can do it the hard way or you can do it the easy way. Go to college. College is the only way because it is a disciplined effort. You can learn a lot more in 4 years than you can in 20 years out there by yourself, " Curry said.

After graduation he plans on opening his own business and returning to ULM next semester to take more classes.

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