Clarksville, TN – As a teenager, Lynn Von Hagen dreamed of working as a biologist in Africa. She raised money for conservation groups, like the World Wildlife Fund, and she often found herself staring at photographs of lions and elephants in the pages of National Geographic.
In the early 1990s, Hagen decided to enroll at Vol State Community College, but after earning her associate degree in 1993, she put her dream of becoming abiologist on hold.“I got stuck working in restaurants for the last 25 years,” Hagen said. “I got married, divorced and remarried. Then my new husband said, ‘You should go back to school. It’s what you want.’”
On Friday, December 11th, a 43-year-old Hagen will move a step closer toward realizing her dream when she earns her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Austin Peay State University. In January, she will head to graduate school at Western Kentucky University, where she’ll take two trips to Kenya to do chemosensory research on elephants.
“I came back to school at a very much older age, and I’ve been working and commuting from Nashville while going to school,” she said. “Now, I feel accomplished and really happy and relieved and triumphant.”
Hagen will join about 807 of her fellow students in earning a college degree from APSU on December 11th. That day, the University will host its Winter Commencement ceremonies, with Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics, delivering the keynote address at both events, at 9:00am and 2:00pm, in the APSU Dunn Center.
Earlier this year, the APSU National Alumni Association presented Rayburn with the 2015 Distinguished Professor Award. She earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from Vanderbilt University, and in 1988, she arrived at APSU as an assistant professor. During her career at Austin Peay, she has received several accolades, including the Socrates Award for excellence in teaching, the Distinguished Community Service Award and the Academic Advising Award.
In 2008, APSU began hosting two graduation ceremonies to accommodate the University’s growing number of graduates. The first ceremony, featuring candidates from the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Science and Mathematics and the School of Technology and Public Management,will begin at 9:00am. The second ceremony, featuring degree candidates from the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, the College of Business and the Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education, will begin at 2:00pm.
APSU offers a free live webcast of each commencement ceremony. A link to the webcast will be made available within 24 hours of each ceremony. The ceremonies also will be broadcast live on Magic91.9 WAPX-FM, a broadcast service of the APSU Department of Communication.