Lynn Pride's proudest moment comes today.
Today is when the former Kansas University women's basketball guard/forward will descend Campanile Hill in cap and gown.
"It will do my heart good to be able to see Lynn fulfill a dream," KU women's basketball coach Marian Washington said.
It's been a major goal of the 23-year-old Pride to gain her diploma in African-American Studies. To that end, she has remained enrolled at Kansas since using up her eligibility in 2000, playing the last two seasons in the WNBA and attending KU this past school year.
"The fact I'm first in my family to graduate from college motivated me," said Pride, a 6-foot-2 native of Arlington, Texas, who has been shuttling back and forth from Minnesota Lynx training camp in Minneapolis and Lawrence the past month as she completes her final 15-hour semester course load.
"Now I will be able to tell kids that this is what you are going to be up against these are the demands. And I'll be able to exemplify to these kids it can be done," Pride said.
Pride admittedly found school difficult.
"As much as I like Lynn she is a delightful young woman I didn't necessarily expect this would ever happen. School is not something she enjoyed that much," said Paul Buskirk, KU's associate athletics director/student support services.
"For her to make this commitment is truly impressive and an inspiration to others. It's a credit to Lynn, coach Washington and Renate Mai-Dalton, her mentor and adviser."
Mai-Dalton, a KU associate business professor, says Pride realized she could have made a lot of money playing overseas in the WNBA offseason instead of laboring over classwork.
"Her motivation and self-discipline is extraordinary," Mai-Dalton said. "I will never forget when Lynn came in as a (high school) recruit Lynn and her mother were meeting with coach (Washington). I was also in the room.
"Her mother said, 'My daughter is coming to this school and will graduate.' Her mother (Charla) was insistent Lynn get a degree."
This semester has proven quite challenging for Pride, who will be cheered in person today by her mom, brother, nephew and nieces.
"It's taken a lot of concentration," Mai-Dalton said. "She had to take two classes in Western Civilization. Anybody who has taken Western Civilization will tell you about the 13 books you have to read. She has three finals and two papers. It's not easy."
"Because I put a lot of time into it before leaving for training camp they knew I wasn't playing around," Pride said of her professors. "That meant handing in work before it was due. You just have to put in more effort than usual. Practicing seven or eight hours is draining, and then on top of it you have to study for an exam. You really try not to find any excuses, though. It's just something I knew I had to do."
She has received motivation from various places.
"I remember last year we looked at the newspaper clipping of Shaquille O'Neal, who graduated," Mai-Dalton said. "I said, 'If this guy could do it this late, you could too.' Now she can be an inspiration to others, too."
Pride actually might continue her education.
"Lynn has a good mind, a great business mind, and I would hope she would go back to school eventually for an advanced degree," Washington said.
"She is the most honest and open young person you will know," Mai-Dalton said. "She plays no games. She is who she is. It's rare to find someone so genuine and kind."
Kansas University Relations contributed to this story. University Relations feature on Lynn Pride can be accessed at www.ur.ku.edu/News/KUNews.html