Couple on Lifelong Educational Journey to Graduate with Master’s Degree

  • Posted in All University
  • Category: Campus News

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – Yvonne M. Bolden and Robert K. Covington’s higher education journey will culminate on Friday with a graduate degree that they have reached as an inseparable team.

They met and married in their 30s and 40s and soon after began taking college courses together in the Philadelphia area. The Yeadon couple finished their bachelor’s degree in education together in 2014. Now in their 70s and 80s, they are set to mark another major educational milestone: earning their master’s degree in early childhood education together from Lincoln University on May 12.

Yvonne M. Bolden and Robert K. Covington will earn their master’s degree in early childhood education from Lincoln University on May 12.

Their professors say they quickly learned that while Bolden and Covington are serious about coursework, they are equally attentive to their needs as a couple.

“I learned a lot from this couple — more than they learned from what I tried to give them as their professor,” said Admasu Tucho, associate education professor. “The most important lesson I learned from the couple is that age is just a number. They love and care for each other like new lovers who just kindled their love light.”

Tina Scott, an adjunct faculty member in the graduate program, called Covington and Bolden “dynamic” and “a pleasure to be around.”

“They are very dedicated not only to each other, but also to their successes and accomplishments in their educational goals collectively and individually,” Scott said.

Bolden and Covington earned their bachelor’s degrees from Temple University and an associates degree in applied science in architecture from the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology. He graduated high school from the Lincoln College Preparatory School and she from West Catholic High School.

“My dad wanted me to go to college for nursing,” Bolden said. “My mom was a Registered Nurse, and he wanted me to follow in her footsteps.” But Bolden had other plans.

She worked mostly in office settings, including as a secretary and paralegal at a law office, coffee hostess at Wawa, sales associate at J.C. Penney, nursing assistant and unit clerk at Lankanau Hospital, medical secretary at a cardiologist’s office, and held other office positions at WPVI Channel 6, Esso Oil Refinery, Philadelphia Land Title Office, and The Wistar Institute.

He has worked mostly with his hands in skilled labor positions. He is an expert at technical drafting— composing drawings that visually communicate how something is constructed — and worked at the Philadelphia Concrete Company in Society Hill for many years.

Technology was changing and he said his boss told him he should pursue a college education to get up to speed in the latest computerized techniques.

“I didn’t go back to school for 10 years,” he said.

After taking community college courses, he eventually attended Drexel University for engineering and learned Computer-Aid Design—commonly called CAD— which is the use of computer systems to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.

At Drexel, his professors quickly learned that he had a depth of expertise that rivaled the faculty. He was asked to teach undergraduate courses because of his expertise in technical drafting. “I didn’t think I could teach at Drexel,” said Covington in disbelief at the offer.

In addition to being a certified draftsman, he has developed specialized skills — such as operating a front end loader, bull dozer, and backhoe — working for several high-profile companies. He was an inspector for Campbell’s soup in the dehydrated food division during the late 1960s for 14 years and a night maintenance engineer at Park Towne Apartments for more than 20 years.

He worked at Philadelphia International Airport as a bus supervisor, at Alamo Rental Car as a supervisor to 40 men, and at Wawa for 11 years. At Dulles International Airport he was supervisor over two foremen and 40 men. He also owned and operated Covington Cab Company with a fleet of 184 cars.

Mentoring and Molding the Minds of Children

A pivotal moment came when he was a student at Temple University and tutored at a preparatory school in Philadelphia. One boy was having trouble with math, and was on the verge of giving up. After Covington helped him think about solving math problems in a different way, he finally grasped the concepts his classmates had long surpassed.

Soon after, the student’s mom called the school to say her son told her, “Mom, I want to be an engineer.”

That’s when it clicked for Covington that teaching was his gift and that he could have the greatest influence over the youngest minds.

“It’s all in the mind. All his life that boy had been told math is hard, but with an open mind, a child will go all the way.”

Mentoring and encouraging young people seems to come naturally to Covington; he peppers his words with phrases such as “positive thinking,” “determination,” and “motivation.”

“I want to teach math and technology to the young kids, up to fourth grade,” Covington said of his plans for after graduation.

Bolden says she plans to pursue a doctorate in education and, along with her husband, start a company in Philadelphia for young men who have dropped out of high school to help them earn their high school diploma.

Article by Shelley Mix, Office of Communications & Public Relations