(West Plains) – Couch resident Edith Williams, who has devoted over 10 years of her life to helping her daughter achieve a college education, received an honorary Associate of Arts degree Saturday, May 18, during Missouri State University-West Plains’ commencement ceremony at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
This is the third year an honorary degree has been bestowed by the university. It is designed to recognize extraordinary individuals who have given a substantial part of their lives to serving others and/or who have distinguished themselves.
Williams, a 1964 graduate of Ellsinore High School, never had the opportunity to go to college herself, but she made sure her daughter, Jennifer, did, despite the debilitating injuries Jennifer suffered in an 1997 automobile accident that left her wheelchair bound. When Jennifer decided in fall 2001 that she wanted to go to college, Edith was by her side, driving her daughter nearly 100 miles round trip from their home to West Plains several times a week so Jennifer could attend classes.
While Jennifer was in class, Edith spent her time reading, visiting with faculty and other students, and helping other students any way she could, university officials said.
By taking just a few classes each semester, Jennifer, with the support of her mother, completed her Associate of Arts in General Studies degree in 2006. She then enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in General Business degree program offered through Missouri State University’s Outreach Program on the West Plains campus. Because of Edith’s support and assistance, Jennifer was able to accomplish her goal of completing bachelor’s degree, which she received at Saturday’s commencement ceremony in West Plains.
Even though her own education did not extend beyond high school, university officials praised Edith’s support for her daughter’s education and for understanding its importance in her daughter’s future.