Sinclair’s oldest, youngest students ever graduate

More than 900 students participated in the school’s commencement.

Two unlikely Sinclair Community College students entered the school’s record books Friday when they crossed the graduation stage.

Sociology student Vinnie Dean Walker, 89, and political science student Caleb Garman, 14, graduated as Sinclair’s oldest and youngest graduates in the school’s 129-year history.

They were among the more than 900 students who participated in Friday’s commencement at the University of Dayton Arena.

“Ms. Walker began her college education in 1963 in Little Rock, Ark., and life happened,” said Sinclair President Steve Johnson during his recent State of the College address.

Coming back to higher education was always on Walker’s mind.

“I always said that one day I would get back on the college campus,” she said. “I always loved the idea of acquiring knowledge and anywhere I could get an hour I would do it.”

Walker owned a cosmetology business and was living in Chicago, she said, when her children decided to retire her at age 79. She left Chicago and chose to relocate in Dayton, where one of her daughters lives.

Walker said she didn’t know what Sinclair was when she moved to Dayton. She said her daughter, during a conversation from her office, pointed in the direction of campus and Walker said she drove until she found it. That was six or seven years ago.

Because it had been more than 20 years since her last college course, Sinclair was unable to give Walker credit. So she got back to work on her degree, knowing she wasn’t the first person in her family to break ground in education.

“My father had a business when we were growing up and he had people of different cultures working for him,” she said. “He was the first black man in eastern Arkansas to obtain a master’s license in sanitary engineering with a third grade education.”

And for the Garman family, it wasn’t just Caleb’s graduation. His mother, Amanda, also graduated from Sinclair on Friday.

Already the owner of an associates degree from Sinclair, the younger Garman still has the matter of high school to finish. Once he graduates from there, he said it’s on to Wright State University to continue his studies in political science.

Garman said he wants to run for local office when he turns 18.