From USL to UL Lafayette: A journey of lifelong learning

Written byZachary Schleter

“If it’s something you want to do, there shouldn’t be any excuses. You’ll always be able to say you don’t have time, but you do. You just have to make it.”

Cheri Landry Vallery
Graduation Year
General Studies
Lafayette, La.

For many, going back to school is an opportunity for career advancement. 

For others, it’s to acquire new knowledge and skills. 

And for some, it’s purely personal. 

That’s true for Cheri Landry Vallery, who graduated from the Bachelor of General Studies online program today at the age of 60.

Landry Vallery first enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in 1982 at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, 17 years before the University would adopt its current name.

Like most, she was an eager 18-year-old, hoping to finish her degree in four years and call it a done deal. 

But life got in the way. 

She took a year off in the middle of her studies before returning to finish her program out; then, after marrying and getting pregnant with her first child, she left again, this time indefinitely. 

Despite having a family and career, not finishing always bothered Landry Vallery. 

In the late 1990s, her family relocated to Houston, Texas, ruling out the possibility of completing her degree at the University for good — until the University’s Bachelor of General Studies degree program launched online. 

“Not finishing was one thing I always regretted,” she said. “When the online program first started, I got an email about it and decided not to do it then, and then more recently, I got another email. I just said, ‘Screw it,’ and reached out to see what it would take to finish.” 

Finishing the Story 

Finishing her degree at the University at which she started it was important to Landry Vallery. 

With several passion projects and a full-time job, she found that the online program afforded her flexibility she needed to do so. 

She runs a small business alongside two friends, hosting and planning retreats for people who enjoy crafting and scrapbooking. She also operates a foundation honoring her daughter, who she and her husband lost to drug abuse at 16. 

“It’s called the Kaitlyn Vallery Foundation,” Landry Vallery says. “Kaitlyn had a drug problem, and whenever she was in the hospital, I promised Kaitlyn that I’d do whatever I could to help any other family or individual not go through this.” 

In support of the foundation’s mission, Landry Vallery and her husband speak to local schools to share Kaitlyn’s story and give scholarships to local high school students who have overcome adversity. 

“That is 100% our passion,” she says. “I wouldn’t wish losing a child on my worst enemy. It’s something that changes you forever.”

As a former accounting major, Landry Vallery built a career using and applying her previous business coursework. Currently, she’s a bookkeeper/accountant for a homebuilder in Houston.

“I do all the things that I would do with an accounting degree without having one,” she says. 

Thus, coursework in other areas, like CJUS 420: Drugs & Crime and GEOL 106: Earth History, posed a challenge for Landry Vallery upon returning to finish her bachelor’s degree online, forcing her to step outside of her comfort zone. 

She took that challenge in stride, earning straight As by spending Sunday mornings locked away in her office, head down, working on her assignments. 

“You have to just make school a priority, and that’s what I did every Sunday morning from 7 to 11,” she says. “I’m a schedule-type person to begin with, so having something planned to where that’s what I needed to do worked great.” 

Looking Ahead 

Though Landry Vallery is nearing retirement age, she’s still thinking about how she can continue her education. 

She’s got her eyes set on the University’s MBA program online. She hopes to enroll in the Human Resources Management concentration in 2025. 

It would all still be just for fun, of course. 

“My next career change is going to be retirement,” says Landry Vallery. “I’m taking the rest of the year off school, just to get my life back in order. And then I’d say it’s about an 80% chance I’ll come back and do the MBA.” 

In the meantime, Landry Vallery encourages students to follow in her footsteps and pursue their personal goals. 

“If it’s something you want to do, there shouldn’t be any excuses,” she says. “You’ll always be able to say you don’t have time, but you do. You just have to make it.”

Achieve your goals and put your existing credits to use by pursuing your bachelor’s degree online. 

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