Louise Griffin has her postgraduation plans established.
"My goal is to come home wearing my cap and gown and jump in the pool," she says firmly. "I don't care if my whole outfit gets ruined, I'm just relieved it's over."
Not very dignified for a 36-year-old with a perfect 4.0 grade point average?
Consider that her husband, James Griffin, 36, he of the identical 4.0 GPA, says, "I'll probably be the one pushing her."
The husband and wife from Glen Burnie will graduate summa cum laude tonight from Anne Arundel Community College with the approximately 1,100 members of the class of 1993.
Mrs. Griffin will receive her associate's degree in business management.
Her spouse is pursuing studies in secondary education.
"Going back was something I always thought I should do, but it was a bit scary at first because it was hard to get into the swing of things," Mrs. Griffin said.
The Griffins work full time for the Coast Guard -- she as a civilian supplies systems analyst, he as a lieutenant who is a training and education officer. They have been married 15 years.
"To carry that heavy a load and maintain good grades while working . . . it wasn't impossible, but it was hard," Mrs. Griffin said.
What the Griffins did is becoming more common on the Arnold campus. More than 35 percent of the class of '93 is 30 or older, said college spokeswoman Theone Relos.
"It's not uncommon for community colleges to have older graduates, but we have been seeing more through the years," Ms. Relos said.
"A lot of them are coming back because they're out of work or trying to take their present career in a new direction. A lot just want to sharpen their skills and some who didn't have time to get a degree before," Ms. Relos added.
For Lucy L. Taylor, who started at AACC in 1965, going back in 1989 was tough. She quit in 1967 to get married and have children.
"It's interesting to try and juggle school, work and family all at the same time," said Mrs. Taylor, a legal secretary who will be receiving her associate's degree in general studies.
"But once you get a hang of it, it gets easier," she said. "I couldn't be happier."
The Griffins used teamwork to get through.
"He started a year after me, so he took winter sessions and heavy course loads so that we could graduate together," said Mrs. Griffin.
"It makes graduation more special that way.
So what is the Griffins' secret for success?
Support, Mr. Griffin said.
"It was hard," he said. "But we lent a lot of support to one another, and that's how we made it through."
And with the hard work over, that support continues.
"He's already warmed the pool with the solar cover," said Mrs. Griffin with a laugh.