The University of South Carolina is awarding 4000 degrees on the Columbia campus this weekend. USC awards more than half of the baccularete degrees in South Carolina. Clemson Univeristy is awarding approximately 2000 degrees this year.One of the oldest graduates from the Columbia campus this year will be 60-year-old Dennis Lambries of Saluda. He spent his first career in the Navy because he didn’t have the money for college at the time. He served in Vietnam and retired after 23-years. Now Lambries now works in the USC Survey Research Lab.
It took Lambries nine years to finish his bachelor’s degree, while he was in the Navy, then a few years on his Masters, then the last 20 years to receive his doctoral degree in political science. Saturday, he will walk across the Koger(hard g) Center stage at 1pm, finally having accomplished his life-long goal.
He explains why he never gave up. “My grandparents out in Saluda County were farmers. And my grandmother impressed upon her children the importance of education. At that time it was tough to get it but it was a way to get off the farm. And it filtered in to me through my mother. So it was always in the back of my mind that education is something that you have to have.”
Lambries says he doesn’t believe in being “too old.” “Sachel Page, who was a great Negro League baseball player, who didn’t get into the major leagues until somewhat later in life, was always being asked how old he was. He looked at them and said, ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’ And that started me thinking. There is a physical side to age, but it’s what you make of it. I knew people I graduated high school with who were old at 18, set in their ways.”
Most of USC’s non-Columbia campuses have already held commencement exercises. USC-Aiken will hold ceremonies tonight(Friday).