Not your average graduand

May 29, 2003, vol. 27, no. 3
By Howard Fluxgold

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Andrea Parker (left) readily admits that she is a little different from many SFU graduates. The single mother is older than most grads, entering SFU when she was 37 and graduating as a grandmother at the age of 41.

And her marks are well above average, having won the deans' medal for the highest undergraduate marks in the school of business's graduating class - a 4.04 grade point average out of a possible 4.33.

“I started at University of Victoria after high school, but I got married and had kids and wasn't able to continue,” she says.

However, as a single mother with two teenaged daughters she found it difficult to survive on the $22,000 she was able to earn doing clerical work, so she decided to return to school.

“It was a scary decision,” she recalls. “I had a fear of failure, but I knew I couldn't survive on what I was doing. I was able to get student loans and combine that with the money I earned in the co-op program to help me through. Surprisingly, the loan hasn't been a burden.”

Along the way, she picked up a companion for her drive to school from Cloverdale - her eldest daughter entered the SFU communication program two years ago.

As a result of one of her co-op placements, Andrea is now working at Deloitte and Touche in Langley while studying for her upcoming chartered accountancy exams.

“I loved school and I treated it just like a job. It turned out not to be as scary as I thought,” she says.

Her nine-month-old grandson, her two daughters and parents from Golden will all be on hand at the June convocation ceremony to help celebrate as Andrea picks up the rewards of a job well done: a deans' medal and business degree.

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