Carol Poulson is cougar blue, through and through. Though she postponed her undergraduate degree to help her husband through school and to take care of their family, the dream to return to finish her degree never went away. When her children got older, Poulson found an opportunity that gave her another chance to continue her love and dedication to learning.
"When my eldest child was a senior in high school and preparing to go away to school, little thoughts in the back of my mind began tugging at me," Poulson said. "Then, I was excited when I learned about the Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program from a flyer on a church bulletin board, and began thinking about doing it."
Walking across the stage this week to accept her degree will be extra special for Poulson. Her youngest daughter Jesslyn, will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History Teaching. Jesslyn's degree fulfills a dream Poulson and her husband, Cris, have of seeing all their children graduate from college. In total there will be eight bachelor degrees in her immediate family, with seven from BYU.
This dedication to education was a strength for Poulson as she juggled both daily responsibilities and significant trials to complete her undergraduate degree. She knows what it can be like when it seems like a dream has come to a screeching halt.
"During my seventh year in the program, I was diagnosed with breast cancer," Poulson said. "I thought that it was the end of my dream, because there was no way I could go through surgery and cancer treatment and complete the rest of my credits."
Refusing to be discouraged from finishing her degree, Poulson worked with BYU and was able to take time off to focus on cancer treatments and surgeries. The fire of her enthusiasm for education couldn?t be quenched by the diagnosis, and she was able to return to her studies when she recovered.
Poulson learned at a young age how important perseverance is to education. She saw a dedication to education in her father. He was pulled out of school early to help manage the family ranch after the death of his father. Poulson recalls her father working long hours driving trucks by day and returning home at night to read and study for a work-related correspondence course.
"Looking back on that, I think seeing my dad study at night after work and with a growing, busy family helped inspire me to take the BGS program," Poulson said. "I had seen correspondence courses in action, and it gave me confidence that I could complete my own studies."
"So here I am," Poulson said.
Her personal experiences since embarking on the BGS program journey ranged from high school graduations, three missions and two weddings, to church callings, breast cancer and working a part-time job.
"It is a busy life, but a full and good life," Poulson said. "I believe it was the Lord who inspired me to return to my schooling and helped me keep going through all the ups and downs of my education."
Writer: Nate Depperman