Dumke Staffer Spends 23 Years Working on Degree

After nearly a quarter century of squeezing college classes into her lunch breaks, radiologic sciences department administrative specialist Lori Frederiksen finally graduated from Weber State University in spring of 2015.

She is the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. “I started taking classes in 1992 right after I was hired because I could take them for free,” says Frederiksen. Eight years later, she had accumulated enough credit hours for an associate’s degree. “My mom was able to watch me walk at graduation before she passed away,” Frederiksen recalls.

In pursuit of a four-year diploma, Frederiksen took an assortment of courses, everything from psychology to communication to zoology. Along the way, she wound up in several classes with her daughter. “We pushed each other to succeed and challenged each other,” says Frederiksen. “I’d always try to outscore my daughter on tests…which I did,” she adds with a sly smile.

In the end, Frederiksen found health administrative services courses to be the most interesting. So she stayed put, graduating with a total of 130 credit hours, 10 more than the minimum requirement.

You’d think that after working on a bachelor’s degree for 23 years, Frederiksen would call a halt to her academic journey. Not a chance! “As a Weber State employee, I’m able take six credits for free each semester, so I might as well take advantage of it,” she says. “I’ll probably find some other classes to take because there’s always something new to learn.”

Frederiksen encourages current students to take all kinds of classes — even ones they think they might not like. “Those just may be the classes that end up being the most fun,” she says. “My favorite course was a nutrition class where I was able to taste foods from other countries and learn about new cultures.”

As a side note, while spending 23 years to complete a four-year program isn’t the norm, it might interest you to know that most Utah students take more than four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. According to the Utah System of Higher Education, of all those who first enroll at a Utah public college or university as a full-time student, only 45 percent complete their bachelor’s program in six years.