It’s Never Too Late to Finish: Gator Completes UF Degree Started in 1986

Sean Rowe Student Story

Sean Rowe, a proud Gator grad and 54-year-old father, husband, and business owner, earned his University of Florida bachelor’s degree via UF Online in 2022 after initially starting on UF’s main campus in the late 80’s

“I never thought that I had dropped out of college because I knew that I was going to come back, it was just a matter of when. It was inevitable that one day I would return.”


A Daytona Beach, Florida native, Sean first attended the University of Florida after graduating high school in 1986. “I had never stepped foot in Gainesville. Once I got there, I didn’t have any money. I struggled to make ends meet in school. I spent more time getting jobs than being a student,” he explained. In 1989, Sean temporarily left UF to work a financing job in Tampa and gain some financial stability before returning to Gainesville in 1991. “I went back to UF, and it was still the same thing, me trying to make ends meet. I thought I was ready for school and there I was working 2 or 3 jobs all over again,” said Sean.

The following year, Sean received a job opportunity in Atlanta, Georgia, and decided to leave UF once more. Moving to Atlanta allowed him and his wife Cecilia to start multiple businesses together, including several family-owned pizzerias, and settle in a new city to raise their two sons. Regardless of the transitions, Sean always felt the motivation to return to UF and complete his degree.


In 2012, Sean typed an email to UF that would sit as a draft for nearly a decade. In describing the moments leading to his reenrollment, Sean said “I wasn’t the best student in the 80’s, and admission requirements have changed a lot. I put this email together, saved it in my drafts, and it sat there for about 8 years. Finally, one day I said ‘I’m going to do this. I’m finally going to see what I have to do.’ I told my family it was time. I’m at a point in my life where I have the availability to do this.” Sean’s email was answered by the Director of Online Advising Services for UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Glenn Kepic.

The UF Online OneStop team helps connect readmission applicants with their previous college to determine their best next steps. Sean found renewed support from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, eager to help him graduate after nearly 30 years.

“Glenn told me ‘Once a Gator, always a Gator.’ He seems to really know his audience, meaning he’s working primarily with adults. I’m so thankful that I’ve met Glenn. He’s been my advocate and has helped me so much. I couldn’t have done it without him.”


Returning Gators are sometimes required to complete additional coursework to re-enroll in the major of their choosing. UF Online offers a flexible path for readmitted students navigating their way to graduation outside of Gainesville. Readmission wasn’t an easy and immediate yes, but Sean was determined to graduate as a Gator.

“It was definitely deflating at first, but the reasoning was sound. The requirements were very well drawn out. They said I should enroll at an accredited college and finish a few courses to raise my GPA, then apply again. I wanted to go to UF. I’ve made the decision to do this, now how do I go about doing it?” said Sean.

With his advisor’s support, Sean took the necessary courses and received the grades needed to earn his way back into UF via UF Online. Together, he and Glenn were able to see the journey through. Sean successfully re-enrolled and earned his UF Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, graduating cum laude in 2022.

Sean’s advice to others who are considering returning to finish their degree via UF Online is, “The biggest thing is just understanding that wherever you are in life, it’s never too late. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last couple of years at UF.” He credits advancements in online education and UF’s committed faculty members with creating a supportive online program.

“I never once felt isolated in the online environment. There’s a lot of comradery. The online experience as a whole was everything I wanted it to be.”


Sean is now considering a graduate program to pursue his dream of a career in archaeology. He explained, “I’ve always been an archaeology buff. There’s always that desire to be Indiana Jones. I really want to do the fun stuff later on, whether that means endlessly digging somewhere, then so be it. That’s going to be my next career. I’d love to earn a master’s degree down the road and contribute to this field. That’s the dream.”

The University of Florida celebrates Sean’s success of completing a degree that he started on campus many years ago. Welcoming students of all ages and life stages, UF Online wishes Sean the best of luck. As we remain a hub of opportunity for Gators pursuing new or continued careers in fields they are passionate about, our online students continue to extend the values of the Gator Nation worldwide.


Discover the mysteries and adventures that await you. With a UF degree in anthropology, students gain a deeper understanding of humanity from the earliest of times to present civilizations. UF coursework provides students with a robust understanding of cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistics. Learn more about the UF Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology by visiting the degree page, and join us at an upcoming virtual information session.