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79-year-old Vietnam War veteran from Waterford may be OCC's oldest graduate

Vick Lyman is receiving his associate degree in what he's calling a 40-year dream in the making
Vick Lyman in his cap and gown
Posted at 11:35 PM, May 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 23:38:30-04

WATERFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Seventy-nine-year-old Vietnam War veteran Vick Lyman from Waterford says it’s a 40-year dream in the making as he receives his college degree from Oakland Community College this Saturday.

Lyman served in the United States Marines during the Vietnam War and began boot camp at only 17 years old. After his time in the military, he worked a few odd jobs but decided to get his applied science degree in culinary arts in food service management in the 1980s to take his career further.

He attended Oakland Community College but needed to financially support his family. With only one class left to get his degree, Lyman dropped out when a job opportunity came along at Coca-Cola.

Vick Lyman serving in the U.S. Marine Corps
Vick Lyman serving in the U.S. Marine Corps

“I had to decide basically, am I gonna take care of my family, feed my family or am I gonna go back and finish this class? Well, I chose my family over that one class," Lyman said.

Lyman worked over 20 years with Coca-Cola doing everything from dispatching to auditing. His love for the company and product runs deep as shown by his Coca-Cola room in his home, but he could never shake the feeling of how close he was to getting his degree.

“Finishing the degree was always in the back of my mind," he said.

Vick Lyman's Coca-Cola room after working over 20 years in the business
Vick Lyman's Coca-Cola room after working over 20 years in the business

As fate would have it, he recently attended a veterans fair where Michigan Works! was connecting veterans to education opportunities. When they heard he only needed one class to get his degree, they stepped in to help. Lyman learned the last remaining physical education class was all set due to his years in the military.

So Lyman is receiving his associate degree, just months shy of his 80th birthday.

Vick Lyman in his cap and gown
Vick Lyman in his cap and gown

“To see him with his diploma and to see him walk across the aisle with other students that are graduating, it’s going to be thrilling," Lyman's son John said.

Vick Lyman plans on celebrating his graduation this Saturday at O'rena at Oakland University the only way he knows how: a cold glass of Coca-Cola.

Oakland Community College told 7 News Detroit that Vick Lyman is one of the oldest to walk across their graduation stage but also one of the most deserving.