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DEGREE HAS 10 YEARS OF WORK, 5 GENERATIONS OF FANS BEHIND IT

From 90-year-old Mae Thomas to 9-month-old Mason Brown, five generations of supporters took their seats Saturday morning to cheer graduate LaVon T. Elliott at soggy Westminster College commencement exercises.

Elliott, 68, has spent most of her life working full-time and raising four children as a single parent in Salt Lake City. "After all my children had gone through college - I decided it was my turn."The new graduate took night classes for 10 years, year-round, to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology, summa cum laude.

Elliott, whom her daughter Barbara Haun labels "perky," topped off an already eventful Saturday by attending her 50th high school reunion at Utah State University. She attended South Cache High School.

She said taking finals and organizing the reunion at the same time was, among other things, time consuming. She describes those weeks as "hectic, stressful and sleepless. I told my family over Easter weekend, `don't even talk to me.' I was studying for a Spanish class. That class turned out to be one of my most difficult classes I had to take."

Family is important to Elliott. "Family has always been No. 1 in my life. My children think this is a bigger deal than I do. Some of them flew in from California to be here."

She also praised the helpfulness of her employer. "I've received a lot of cooperation from my employer. They helped finance my schooling." She works as director of eligibility for First Health in Salt Lake City.

As far as this summer is concerned, Elliott said she has big plans. "I'm sure looking forward to this summer. I'm just going to sit by the pool, rent movies and not open one book."