Man graduates 43 years after leaving college - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Man graduates 43 years after leaving college

Dr. John Barker, Humboldt native and UT Martin graduate (Source: UT Martin) Dr. John Barker, Humboldt native and UT Martin graduate (Source: UT Martin)
MARTIN, TN (KFVS) -

A man received a college degree 43 years after he left college.

According to a news release from UT Martin, Joe Barker, of Pickwick in Hardin County, finished what he started and received his degree Saturday during spring commencement at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

He joined more than 750 students who were eligible to participate in commencement and receive degrees.

At the start of his senior year in 1972, Joe Barker's father was involved in a boating accident at Pickwick.

“We had a family business, and I dropped out of school,” Joe Barker said. “I went home to the family business. So, 43 years after that I'm able to graduate.”

UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes welcomed the commencement crowd, noting that the May graduates represented 61 Tennessee counties, 18 states and nine countries.

Dr. John Barker, chief accountability officer for Chicago Public Schools, was the commencement speaker. Barker is a Humbolt native and 1989 UT Martin graduate.

Barker said a diploma is an important symbol that helps “remind you of who you are.”

University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro conferred degrees. He also honored Tom Rakes in his final commencement as UT Martin chancellor.

Rakes will step down as chancellor effective May 31 and return to teaching.

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