Woman graduatesafter 49 years

Laurie Kemp

Thanks to her mother’s prodding, Minneapolis native Anita Alexander will graduate from the University this spring — 49 years after she first enrolled.
Now a Chicago resident, Alexander, 66, entered the University in 1947. In 1950, with only seven credits left, she got into a dispute with the University Library.
“I walked out and never went back,” she said. “I honestly don’t remember what happened. I think it was about some reserved books. I was a lousy student.”
After leaving the University, she took art classes and accumulated credits. “I never applied for a degree. I just took what I wanted to take. The actual certification meant nothing to me,” she said.
Alexander was taking classes last fall at Northwestern University through a state scholarship grant when the college requested she submit her major status and verify classes taken at the University. Last summer, she came to Minneapolis for a wedding and searched for her forgotten credits at the University.
After a search through dusty archives, she found the transcripts from the late 1940s. She retrieved about 130 credits, Alexander said. She needed two natural sciences classes to graduate, which she took at Chicago’s Truman College.
After telling the story to her mother, her mother asked her why she didn’t apply for her diploma. Alexander asked her mother, “What’s more important, the substance or the certificate?” Her mother replied, “The certificate.”
“My mother loves commencements,” Alexander said. “I think she felt cheated because I never went to my high school graduation.” To please her mother, she will graduate with the class of 1996 in the June 9 commencement. She studied philosophy at the University but will receive a degree in fine arts.
Alexander said she feels “kind of numb” about graduating. “At this point in my life, it’s kind of pointless,” she said. However, Alexander did say she plans to continue taking classes for credit and possibly pursuing another degree. “I jokingly told my mother that I’m applying next year for medical school,” Alexander said. “She asked, `When?'”