Vivian Cunningham earned her bachelor’s degree from Samford University at age 78. She received her diploma during commencement May 8.
Photo courtesy of Samford University

Cunningham earns Samford degree at 78

By Sean Flynt
Special to TAB Media

As a child in Birmingham’s Titusville neighborhood, Vivian Cunningham thought she’d be a seamstress.

She inherited the sewing skills of her grandmothers, studied the trade in school and sewed for others. She even worked in a dress shop in Atlanta before returning to Birmingham as a single mother of two children in the late 1960s. She traded that career for one in custodial service on the night shift at Alabama Power Company in order to provide for her children.

Now retired, Cunningham recently achieved a long-held dream. On May 8, she graduated from Samford University at the age of 78.

There was no easy path to her degree, but the online option through the school’s professional studies program made the difference.

Professional studies, formerly known as evening college, offers Samford’s only fully online bachelor of arts degrees: organizational leadership and liberal studies.

“Moving these online have helped so many students like Vivian who are returning years later to finish what they started,” said Bryan Gill, director of professional studies. “Working with Vivian all these years, I thought I was the one helping her but in reality, she was the one helping me see why I do what I do. She has been a such a joy to have in professional studies, and we are so excited to see her get recognized for her accomplishments.”

Read more of Cunningham’s story here.