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Grad Proves ‘You Don’t Have to Quit’

UL Online -- Fri, 03/27/2020 - 12:15pm

William Davis had unfinished business at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Davis, a Lafayette native, originally enrolled at his hometown University in 2004 as a biology major. He excelled in his courses but felt he needed to pursue a different discipline. Davis transitioned from science to humanities, majoring in interpersonal communications.

“I loved to speak. I enjoyed public speaking and interacting with people,” Davis says. “I made plans to become a communications consultant and walked to class each day knowing I had found my calling.”

While Davis amassed credits across colleges, he also married and soon had a growing family.

“It got to the point that my family needed a different type of support — they needed me financially. I had to make a choice to start providing, even though I was young,” Davis says. “So I put my degree on hold.”

Davis’ wife graduated from the University in 2008 with a bachelor’s in hospitality management. His brother also graduated from UL Lafayette while his sister earned her degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

He says his mom, who also had to prioritize her family over her degree, dreamed of seeing all three of her children graduate from college.

In 2018, she saw her dream realized.William Davis poses with Dr. Bobbie Decuir during a 2018 commencement ceremony.

Davis, 33, earned his Bachelor of General Studies from UL Lafayette after completing just two online courses from his Texas home.

“When I came back it was to finish something that I started – It wasn’t required,” he says. “I already have a wonderful career, I own a home, my family is well-supported and I was happy.

“I was at such a good place in my life, it was like, ‘what’s the next goal?’”

Then an old friend put him to task. 

“I said, ‘I don’t really need it,’ and she was like, ‘It’s not about needing it. It means more than that,’” Davis says.

Davis connected with UL Lafayette’s University College to find out how many credits he would need to earn a general studies degree.

“I was right on track for a general studies bachelor’s — I was only two classes short,” he says.

“It was some unfinished business. It was something for (my mom), something to show myself that I could do it, and something to show my children that even though things slow you down, you don’t have to quit.”

Davis says he completed his final semester at UL Lafayette with the support of his family, as well as University faculty and staff.

“They went above and beyond what they needed to. It felt good to have someone that actually cared,” Davis says. “It made you feel like not just another student – that was the best part about it.”

Davis says he didn’t tell his mom he was getting his degree until he was certain.

“I think I told her the week before the semester ended. I was like, ‘I think I did it,’” he says.

He says he remembers pacing, refreshing the ULink page, waiting for his final grades. He remembers traveling with his wife and children from Texas back to his hometown so his parents could see him graduate. And he remembers the moment University College Associate Dean Dr. Gail Bonhomme recognized him as one of the students she’d been guiding by phone and email, as she read his name aloud.

“She gave me the biggest hug,” Davis says. “Even though I was an online student, I’m a Ragin' Cajun whether I’m in Lafayette or San Antonio. And it felt that way. It felt like family.”

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers five online bachelor’s programs for students interested in earning or completing their degree. Earn an accredited degree online in general studies, business administration, health promotion and wellness, health services administration, or, for registered nurses with an associate’s degree, a bachelor of science in nursing. Learn more on our programs page.