Recent Winthrop University graduate Amanda Cavin '15 had her
graduation day marked on her calendar for most of her last two years, and she happily told anyone who asked the date and time.
Last updated 6/10/15
Of course, she expected to shed several tears. In
the audience was her husband and four children: son Ian, 19; and daughters
Jennings, 17; Kaci, 15; and Emma, 13.
“I will be proud of what I’ve
accomplished and for my kids to see it,” Cavin said before graduation. “Not graduating college
had always been the biggest regret of my life. How many people can say they got
to go back and fix that regret?”
Cavin, 43, is a first-generational,
post-traditional student who completed an early childhood
education degree in the Richard W. Riley College of Education. After graduating
from Northwestern High School in 1989, she enrolled in Winthrop for two
semesters, but lacked the self-discipline for which the rigorous course
She was working in administration at Saluda Trail
Middle School when budget cuts eliminated her job, and her thoughts returned to
her big regret: not finishing college.
“It was my husband who said,
‘You’ve always wanted to go back to school,’ and I realized I wanted to,” she
said. “I was excited and scared.”
Being a full-time student, mother
and wife was a balancing act and a sacrifice, she said. She worked in the Instructional Technology Center to help pay for her child’s
“It’s a sacrifice of time with my family,” she said.
“But it’s funny because every once in a while they ask me about my grades. Once
I get home, I’m mom.”
That means encouraging her children to tackle
the college dream as well.
“Being a first-generation college
student, of course I want that for them,” she said. “I want them to go to
college. I want them to not have the struggle that we’ve had.”
first, coming back to Winthrop as a post-traditional student, Cavin was a
little intimidated, but said the faculty and staff — particularly those in the
College of Education — have been wonderful. She is also grateful for the
scholarships she received.
Cavin was a McNair Scholar
during the summer of 2013, where her research focused on how teachers measure
and define quality, which presented at a national conference and took home
first place in education. Cavin also made the Dean’s List and
served as president of the Palmetto State Teacher’s
Association on campus.
Ultimately, she hopes to earn her master’s degree in in RTI, response
to intervention. Later down the road, she would love to become a principal.
“My whole philosophy is, if I’m a teacher in a classroom of 25 kids, I
can impact 25 kids,” Cavin said. “If I’m a principal, I can oversee 30 to 40
teachers who are impacting 25 lives each. I can make a bigger difference that