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Architect Finally Receives N.C. State Degree, Decades After Enrollment

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RALEIGH, N.C. — It's a big graduation weekend for schools in the Triangle. More than 3,800 students received their degrees from North Carolina State on Saturday, and thousands more are scheduled to graduate at the University of North Carolina and Duke University on Sunday.

Many new grads say they're now looking for jobs and trying to start their careers. But for at least one graduate, his career has just ended. For Ed Thurman, getting his college diploma was a moment 65 years in the making.

"It's unbelievable, it really is," said Thurman.

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Thurman started attending N.C. State in 1941, but World War II interrupted his education. He returned to finish several years later, but left a few credits shy of his degree.

Between then and now, Thurman worked on architecture projects around the world and in the United States, including the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., the Los Angeles Zoo, and, most notably, the LA theme building at LAX.

"I had had a very successful career," he said.

So Thurman wrote the dean of architecture at N.C. State a letter. The dean wrote back and said his years of experience were more than enough to get him a diploma.

"There were times when I thought, 'It would have just been so great to have received my degree here,'" said Thurman. "I have a great love for North Carolina and North Carolina State."

Thurman said he fulfilled a great professional career, but wanted one piece of paper to complete something personal. Now, at 83 years old, the graduate said the chapter of his life that started so long ago is complete.

"I finally get the ultimate recognition, and that is that I am a graduate of North Carolina State," he said.

Ed Thurman recently retired from architecture work. He now lives with his wife in Virginia.

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