Former Cape Girardeau mayor gets college degree, 35 years later

Former Cape Girardeau mayor to get degree

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Former Cape Girardeau mayor and Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents member Jay Knudtson will walk across the stage on Saturday, Dec. 15 as a Southeast graduate.

It’s coming nearly 35 years after starting his college career. Knudtson said if he had to describe the experience in one word, it would be “hard.”

"My dream is coming true and I'm finally graduating college after 35 years so I'm really excited," said Knudtson.

He started his college career in 1982 at the University of Minnesota on a baseball scholarship, with the hopes of becoming a pro.

But after a career ending shoulder injury, he dropped out and started working. "It was something that at the time I thought was a good idea but my whole life I've really regretted that decision and I’ve always had the dream to go back."

Even without a college degree, Knudtson has been successful, but he still felt something was missing. “I was in a time where not having a degree didn’t hurt you professionally, but it hurt me personally,” Knudtson said.

After talking with family friends and President Carlos Vargas, Knudtson enrolled as a student in 2016. "Two and a half years ago I went back and I’m proud to say I’m graduating tomorrow," said Knudtson.

He told me this started out as a selfless act, he wanted this for him, but after hearing from so many people saying his story was an inspiration it became much more. "For me, it’s mission accomplished but as I sit with you today the greater thing in this whole thing if it inspires one person to do it for themselves that’s what’s fun,” said Knudtson.

“The message of what he’s sending is really powerful and I’m hoping many people listen to that because he’s acting according to his words with his actions and it makes people realize i can do that,” said Vargas, “It’s a very unusual experience for a president but it’s an exciting one.”

On Saturday, Knudtson will address his fellow graduate with one idea in mind, "Degree matters.”

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