The COVID-19 pandemic threw a major curveball to spring 2020 graduates everywhere, forcing schools to think up unique ways to celebrate graduates and their accomplishments.
One UofL graduate isn’t letting this unprecedented and nontraditional situation keep her from celebrating.
Bronwyn Garrett Hudson is no stranger to approaching life with resilience and determination.
Hudson began her journey at UofL in 1970 and, after facing struggles and successes throughout the following decades, will earn her bachelor of science in Organizational Leadership and Learning from the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) this spring.
When Hudson began taking courses at UofL after graduating from duPont Manual High School, she strove to succeed, but found it difficult.
“When I entered college, it was like a whole new world for me,” Hudson said. “So, trying to stay focused was hard for me at the of age of 18.”
After taking college courses for almost two years, Hudson married and soon had two children, who became her primary focus. However, when she divorced her first husband, she had to steer herself in a new direction to support her family as a single mother.
Supporting others was nothing new for Hudson. When Hudson was in high school, she tutored deaf students instead of going to her own study hall, which allowed her to learn American Sign Language. This act of kindness helped her land her first job. She applied for a position with the Louisville Health Department and got it due to her experience with ASL. The job paved the way for her future, and she forged ahead.
Hudson was married and divorced a second time and gained a stepdaughter in addition to her first two children. During both of her marriages, Hudson attempted to go back to school to finish her degree, but balancing her work, family and course work remained challenging.
“Trying to finish school was very difficult because I was working a full-time job and often it would be over 40 hours a week,” Hudson said. “I had to take a break.”
But Hudson doesn’t seem to be the person who takes it easy. Her version of “taking a break,” meant more than two decades working at St. Joseph Children’s Home and Child Development Center, first as a teacher assistant in 1984, then as the director of the Child Development Center, where she retired in 2008. She also earned an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Development from Jefferson Community Technical College and served on Governor Beshear’s Early Childhood Advisory Council.
While serving on the governor’s council, Hudson was asked to speak in front of the education committee and the House of Representatives in Frankfort to share her classroom experiences and tell her fellow teachers’ stories from their own classrooms. Her presentation spurred the formation of Kentucky’s STARS program, which gives childcare teachers the opportunity to pursue an education and helps childcare centers provide quality childcare.
After all these accomplishments, she still wanted more – a bachelor’s degree. Hudson decided to return to UofL at the age of 65 to finally complete her college education. When she learned about UofL’s senior program, which offers free tuition to senior citizens, Hudson jumped at the opportunity.
Proving this was indeed her time, Hudson is graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor of science degree and the Resilience Award in Organizational Leadership and Learning, which is awarded to students who have faced struggles, but persevered to succeed.
Hudson is celebrating her 50-year journey to graduation with her family and a virtual ceremony with CEHD. Hudson aims to continue making a difference after earning her degree, saying she might even start a youth leadership program of her own.
While she isn’t exactly sure what her next step will be, Hudson knows one thing is for sure. “Now is my time,” she said. “It wasn’t my time back then, but now is my time.”