A 76-year-old man receives diploma at MSU graduation ceremony

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Fondest memories cling to thee.

The MSU Alma Mater stays true for one graduate, 54 years later.


An Oklahoma man returns to Starkville to take part in a special moment.

Usually, in four years, college graduates receive their diplomas. But for one 76-year-old Oklahoma man, he’s waited nearly 54 years to get his.

“I’ve seen our kids graduate from college and I never got to do this. I thought this is something I’d like to do,” said Jackson.

James Carson Jackson graduated from Mississippi State University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

After completing his courses, Jackson immediately began work at Philips Petroleum Research Center in Oklahoma, later owning his own business. He married his wife,Donna, and raised their children.

As years went by, Jackson realized something was missing. That’s when it hit him- one of the most memorable experiences in a lifetime, his college graduation ceremony.

“At that time, they did not have graduation ceremonies in January you had to come back in June.There was just no way I could come back and graduate and walk across the stage,” said Jackson.

So he picked up the phone and made a call.

“I called and talked to the man down here and he asked for my student number and I gave it to him. He said you’re not in my computer, you’re in the vault I’ll have to find it and make sure you graduated. He called the next day and said you graduated and you can do it if you’ll like,” said Jackson.

Now, it’s a moment he can cherish. Stands were filled with Jackson’s family, friends, and one special supporter who couldn’t be here today.

“My mother really missed the chance to come here and watch me graduate. She died years ago and I’d just wish I’d done it sooner while she was still alive to see it happen,” said Jackson.

“I didn’t know he missed out on this as much as he did. So when he decided he wanted to do it I said they’re not going to tell you no. It’s overwhelming to see how happy he is really,” said Donna Jackson.

A ceremony for what seemed like an audience of one, and an achievement Jackson would never forget.

“Don’t quit, keep going. It’s well worth it. You may get discouraged, but it’s well worth it,” said Jackson.

Over 500 graduates participated in the ceremony along side Jackson today.

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