Walter Douglass and his son, Keith, took different routes to the Fox School of Business. But at commencement, they walked together. The father and son sat beside one another May 6 at the Liacouras Center, and had their names and degrees announced simultaneously during the Fox School’s commencement ceremony.
Walter, who in 2009 opened a tax-preparation service, received a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Keith, 23, earned his Bachelor’s in Finance.
Walter, 50, balanced academic, professional, and familial responsibilities as “the most non-traditional student you’ll ever find,” he said. Walter has spent more than 30 years driving tractor-trailers, making nightly runs to Connecticut and returning to the family’s home in Schwenksville, Pa., in the mid-morning hours. At points of his undergraduate career, Walter would finish his day’s work and head directly to Main Campus. More recently, he would log a few hours of sleep before attending a late-afternoon class.
“There were times when I’d have two courses per semester,” Walter said, “but mostly, I would tell myself, ‘Let’s just take it one course at a time.’”
Walter began his pursuit of a college degree in 2001, first earning his associate’s degree at a community college before transferring to Temple. He’s been completing coursework ever since, except for an 18-month sabbatical while he received chemotherapy to treat Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Keith, 23, completed 18 credits of coursework in the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters in order to ensure he would walk with his father at commencement.
“When I looked at my schedule (last year), I thought, ‘I have to push myself. I owe that much to my father.’ He’s the hardest-working man I’ve ever known,” Keith said. “That was my motivation to get through it. I kept thinking, ‘This man has been through everything. I don’t have any excuses.’”