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UA Little Rock Graduate Finishes Degree Two Decades After Leaving College

Juscenta Parker
Juscenta Parker

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate has finished her long-held goal of completing her bachelor’s degree more than 20 years after she first started college.

Juscenta Parker, a single mother of three and grandmother of six from Jacksonville, first started at UA Little Rock right after high school. She left the university in 2001 to take care of her oldest son and is now excited and ecstatic to be graduating cum laude.

“I decided to return to college to pursue finishing my first bachelor’s degree,” Parker said. “I wanted my children to see me complete a goal that I had wanted to achieve for many years now, and I also wanted to make them proud.”

Parker is only the third person in her family to earn a college degree following her brother and sister, and she hopes that her educational journey will serve as an inspiration for her children and grandchildren.

“Watching me get my college degree has made them want to push forward and further their education,” she said. “My oldest son is pursuing truck driving. My middle son is a freshman at UCA, and my daughter wants to join the Air Force and go to nursing school. They are my biggest supporters.”

As an added bonus, Parker is graduating with not one but two bachelor’s degrees on May 11 – a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Management with an emphasis in Human Resources Management.

Parker, who works as an accountant at Simmons Bank, said her new degrees will help her move up the corporate ladder.

“By getting this degree, I am able to climb the ladder and learn new job duties within the company,” Parker said. “I’ve worked at Simmons Bank for 10 years.”

In addition to her bachelor’s degrees, Parker also has an associate degree in business and an associate degree in arts from UA-Pulaski Tech as well an associate degree in health information technology from DeVry University. She is currently attending Keller Williams Real Estate School and also plans to become a real estate agent in the future.

She has also received scholarships from the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund and was recognized as the organization’s Student of the Month in April.

“The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund offered me a mentor, Miss Keisha Smith, who was a big help to my success and kept me going,” Parker said. “My mom was a big motivator along with several other family members who helped me push through and strive to be the best. When I look back, I can’t believe what I did. I am ready to start my journey. This is a long-lasting goal that is now completed.”