Spring 2023 College of Education graduate David Byrd Yeaman did not take the conventional path to his B.A. in education sciences. Despite initially having an anticipated graduation date of Spring 1980, he is thrilled to finally become a University of Florida alumni— and learned a lot about himself while earning his degree.
Yeaman arrived at the UF College of Education in 1978 after earning his A.A. from Santa Fe College. He had always been a massive fan of UF and was thrilled to be accepted as a transfer student.
His transition from Santa Fe to UF proved difficult, and after a few rough semesters of earning mostly C’s, Yeaman grew frustrated and dropped out. After leaving UF, he pursued a profession in the insurance business, working with his father. However, according to his wife, Jennifer, “He always felt like something was missing without his [UF] degree.”
Yeaman recalls feeling embarrassed and self-conscious about his decision to drop out of UF. Because of this, he did not mention his lack of degree to his friends or family until about three years ago. When one of his children asked Yeaman what year he graduated, he finally explained that he never did. “That moment stands out in my mind,” he stated. That was a tipping point for Yeaman—he needed to return to UF.
Forty-three years later, he decided to return and finish his undergraduate education. Yeaman thanks many professors and advisors for helping with his return to UF but states that his decision to return to school was ultimately his. “The primary motivator in all of this was me, quite simply,” Yeaman said. “Once I decided it was time, I jumped into the process.”
He was able to enroll in the UF College of Education’s online education science program to finish his undergraduate degree. “It was always in my mind that one day I would finish, but online education really opened the door for me to complete my degree,” Yeaman stated. He said that he was met with open arms when he was readmitted to the college. When starting the process, he was introduced to Aaron Ganas and Earl McKee, who played significant roles in his educational journey. He also mentions that he received encouragement from his younger classmates throughout his classes.