Rockhurst mom set to become an alumnaMay 11, 2012

It wasn’t quite time for Cynthia Barchers to walk across the stage for graduation, but the novel urge to don her flowing black robe and snug-fitting mortarboard took hold. For Barchers, this prodigious moment was almost 40 years in the making. At that moment, at home and weeks away from graduation, the usually stoic mother of four and grandmother of five felt some things stirring inside that she didn’t expect: excitement and pride.

“I really didn’t think it was going to do much of anything to me,” Barchers, 54, said. “But the last few weeks I’ve gotten really excited that I’ve finally made it. That’s a nice feeling. I finally made it where I wanted to make it.”

She first attended Rockhurst University in the fall of 1975 to study accounting, but after the death of her father, she left school, obtained a medical assistants degree and eventually found herself employed with Marion Laboratories and decided to leave the University.

Barchers recalled the workplace environment was much different in the mid-‘70s than today. She said someone could come in without any experience, but under the right guidance and tutelage, could easily do the same work that someone with a degree could do.

But the ghost of not having a diploma in her chosen field haunted her throughout her career. 

“I loved working with the people and I enjoyed doing the job, but every now and then I would get the feeling that people wondered how I got to where I was without a piece of paper saying I earned a degree,” Barchers said. “I think people look down upon you when you don’t have that piece of paper.”

In 2010, after years of taking courses intermittently at Rockhurst, and two years after her second-oldest son, Andrew Barchers, 29, graduated from the University with a degree from the Helzberg School of Management, she decided to once again try her hand at college. She dipped her toes back in the water with an evening class and a morning class and soon she was hooked.

But things were a little different this time. Sure, she was able to return to school full time, but unlike her first attempt at her undergraduate degree, she was now a wife, a mother, a grandmother. She had many more responsibilities and people counting on her than in 1975.

“The time requirements of life outside of the classroom were overwhelming at times,” Barchers admitted. “I usually stayed up late and went without a lot of sleep… just like every other college student, but I wasn’t playing in my down time. I was doing my household duties.”

Although, there were some more difficulties this time around, a couple of factors in her life made her second time at Rockhurst a lot better: her growing love of education and a clearer focus on what she wanted to study.

She wanted to continue her work in the sciences and finally earn a degree in what she had been doing for her entire career. She will be leaving Rockhurst with a degree in biology and a degree in English.

She also had the entire support of her family, two of whom were enrolled at Rockhurst along with her.

Marcus Barchers, 21, is earning his undergraduate degree in business while his older brother Elvin E. Barchers III, 33, has returned from the Navy to earn a teaching degree.

Despite the close proximity to her boys, Barchers takes a laissez faire approach to their lives on campus, which is easily done because their fields of study are so different.

“I hardly ever see them,” she said. “Not that I don’t want to see them, but this is their college time and I don’t want to interfere with that. They need their life. I came here for my purpose and they came here for their purpose.”

But come Saturday, when she’s walking across the stage to get her long-awaited diploma, she won’t want any space between her and her family.

“In fact, I don’t know who was more excited, my children, my husband or I,” she joked.

After graduation, Barchers plans on studying for the GRE to pursue a master’s degree or look for a job at Rockhurst, because in just another year, her youngest son, Daniel will be following in his older brothers’ and now mother’s footsteps and coming to Rockhurst University. 

Filed Under: Academics, Student Life Facebook Twitter