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The amazing story of Arkansas' Tandie Kenser who will be awarded a college business degree which was her final wish as she battled cancer

An inspiring Arkansas woman who passed away following a battle with cancer will be offered a posthumous degree in business from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock at commencement exercises on December 14.

It has been more than a year since Tandie Kenser passed away on August 24, 2018, and she was only 23 credits away from graduating from UALR — which was her dream.

The mother of the student will travel from her home in Canada to accept the degree on her daughter's behalf at what will probably prove to be a tear-filled presentation.

Tandie's mother said she felt very honored that her daughter is being awarded a degree.

“It’s wonderful that the university is doing this for her. She had one more year to go, " said mother, Gennie Adair. "I really thought she would live long enough. I used to pray that she would live long enough to walk down that stage, but she just didn’t make it.”

Tandie, 51, had been diagnosed with colon cancer (stage 4) back in 2011, and doctors told her that the prognosis was not good.

According to family members, Tandie decided to spend her final years completing her only regret: never completing a college degree.

In a 2018 interview, Tandie Kenser also encouraged other students who are older or thought that they could not complete a college degree to do it. She said it's not too late.

“I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I love walking on campus," Tandie said. "I like every professor I’ve had. It’s brought me joy.”

Tandie joined UA Little Rock in 2015, and she signed up for a large number of credits since she knew her time was short: 18 credit hours — even though she had been advised to start with only 9.

Shannon Gwinn, the College of Business student and career services director, said Tandie pointed her finger at her with emphasis and said: "Not only am I going to take 18 hours, I’m going to make a 4.0."

Gwinn said Tandie would be so happy to have this knocked off her bucket list.

"Life threw a lot to Tandie, and she overcame it all except for cancer," Gwinn added. "I can only imagine the party she would be throwing for her family and friends to celebrate this."

Dean Jane Wayland said Tandie was excited that she was going to wearing a cap and gown that the UALR bookstore had gifted to her.

Wayland said Tandie was an "incredible woman."

“She embraced learning all she could even during the most difficult times during her illness," Wayland said. "She participated fully in all the opportunities of the college and encouraged her fellow students. She made friends easily and instilled joy to all around her.”

Tandie was someone who accomplished all her goals. And guess what her GPA was at UALR: It was a 4.0.

Her final accomplishment will play out on a UALR commencement stage on December 14 for a woman who has inspired thousands around the state even after her passing.

What an inspiration!

Tandie Kenser (seated) and her mother, Gennie Adair (center) visit Cindy Wallace (left) and Shannon Gwinn (right) in the UA Little Rock College of Business. Photo by Ben Krain.
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