Bill King: College graduation day arrives

Bill King | Rainsville columnist

She attended her first class at Jacksonville State University when she was only 3-year’s old! No, she was not a child prodigy. She was a child whose mother was a college student without a babysitter. The mother was my wife, Jean, and the child was our daughter, Sara Ashley.  

It so happened that Ashley’s regular babysitter was unavailable that day. Jean had a test that day, which she didn’t need to miss, so Ashley went to college with her mother. When Jean asked permission for our daughter to stay, the professor not only allowed her to stay, but she graciously sat in the hall with her. The professor peeped in on her students as they took their tests, while she read a book to her newest and youngest student!   

None of us imagined back then how history would one day repeat itself. Fast forward some 30 years after she attended her first class at Jacksonville State, and we find Ashley actually enrolled in classes at that same school.  

Have you ever heard the expression, “Like mother, like daughter?”

After Jean’s first year of college, she married yours truly and put her higher education on the back burner.

It was not until she was in her 30s and with a husband and a child, that she went back to get her undergraduate degree.

With all the demands of a family, she went on to be a cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Jacksonville State University.

Immediately after high school, Sara Ashley began her college education as an art major.  She also put her higher education on hold after her first year of college.

Many years later, when she began again, she changed her studies to nursing.

Two years ago, she completed her RN degree from Southern Union Community College.

She decided to continue on and get her bachelor’s degree. So, she was accepted to attend the first college she had ever attended, but this time she was slightly older than 3. Working as a full-time nurse in a hospital intensive care unit, with a husband and a young-teenage son, she went back to the same school she had attended for one day with her mother, 30-something years earlier. She is now the same age as her mother when she went there.   

Last Saturday, we attended the commencement exercises at Jacksonville State University.

We sat in the football stadium the entire morning as we waited for that one-shining moment to arrive.

The University Band played Pomp and Circumstance until their lips and fingers almost fell off, while the graduating class of 2023 filed in to take their seats. Nancy Grace delivered the graduation address. Then, after all the fanfare, 1000 names were called out and awarded their degrees. Ashley’s last name is now Wood. Alphabetically, she was almost the last name called. I did not know approximately 999 of them, but I gladly waited to hear the name called for the one I do know and love so much. I was so proud of our one-and-only child that I strutted, just a little, while sitting right there on the concrete stadium bleachers! 

Finally, Ashley has not only graduated from college, but she finished Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. The 2-most important ladies in my life have now graduated from the same university.

They even bought matching JSU alumni sweatshirts immediately after graduation! Ashley is a fine example to us all to have a dream, and to work hard and pray much, to see it come true. Congratulations, Sara Ashley King Wood!

I spend more time on my computer than I do with some family members.  


— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday edition. Visit for more information.

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