SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Loomis couple who retired following successful business careers will graduate Saturday with twin bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration from Sacramento State, checking off a box on their “bucket list.”
Charles Beckham, 64, worked as a chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems before launching his own startup. Debra Beckham, 66, was a professional recruiter for Visa.
Neither had attended college and Charles hadn’t even finished high school, dropping out to help support his family. Debra says she always felt self-conscious when her professional colleagues talked about their college experiences.
“It was my dirty little secret that I didn’t have a college degree, so it was important to me,” she said.
The Beckhams started taking classes at Sierra College in the summer of 2013 before transferring as juniors to Sac State, and they’ve taken nearly every class together.
Charles says classmates routinely found the situation confusing.
“You can tell they think we’re part of the faculty or the administration,” he said. “They’re often quite surprised to find out that, like them, we’re students.”
But the novelty quickly wears off, says Erin Brown, a twenty-something student and study partner in the Beckham’s Marketing 181 class.
“I don’t even consider them like an older couple. I just consider them like classmates,” she said.
Deanna Daly, the Marketing 181 instructor, says many of her students look to the Beckhams for guidance.
“They’ve added a richness to the class that can’t be duplicated by me or anybody else,” she said.
When asked for a final thought about the couple’s return to school after decades in the professional world, Charles offered advice for others who may regret missed opportunities in their younger years.
“It’s definitely not too late. It’s never too late. For all of the good things, it’s never too late,” he said.
After graduation the Beckhams plan to continue their volunteer work; Charles as a court-appointed private fiduciary for vulnerable clients and Debra as a family mentor for mothers.
The Beckhams will receive their diplomas Saturday in a 6:30 p.m. ceremony at the Golden 1 Center. Their four adult children and six grandchildren will be among those in the audience cheering them on.