When Duane and Susan Griffith graduated from Missouri Southern, they wanted it to be together.

“I was eligible last spring, but I wasn’t going to do it until she was ready,” said Duane, who graduated with a bachelor of science in history and a minor in art history, while Susan earned her degree in art.

The Carthage couple walked the stage together on Saturday – pausing as their family took photos of them with Dr. Dean Van Galen, president of MSSU – celebrating academic milestones earned several years after retirement.

Duane is 70 and Susan is 71; they enrolled in classes in January of 2015. Duane had previously earned an associate’s degree in drafting and design and was a parts and warranty manager for RVs and tractors, while Susan worked in a shoe factory.

“I just decided I wanted to get my degree,” said Susan. “This is very special and exciting.”

“(The Griffiths) had a life and careers but decided to add college credentials upon retirement,” said Frank Pishkur, chair of the Department of Art and Design and Susan’s faculty adviser.

“Duane did an internship working with our African art collection. Susan has been a joy … two years ago, one of her entries for the Thomas Hart Benton Art Competition won first place in the Emerging Artist category.

“She does a lot of watercolor work, which we were excited about. Watercolor historically is strong in this region, but there hasn’t been a lot of focus on it in contemporary artwork.”

Having completed their studies, she said she’ll be spending her time painting. Duane said he’s going to take a break but may look into earning a master’s degree.