Tina Lyman in graduation cap
Due to her ambition, determination and refusal to listen to naysayers, Tina Lyman can don her cap and gown and receive her Bachelor of Science degree in business economics and computational analysis from The University of Alabama in Huntsville during fall commencement ceremonies on Dec. 11, 2023.
Courtesy Tina Lyman

Tina Lyman has heard “no” too many times throughout her life: She was told she didn’t have what it takes to succeed in college. She was told she couldn’t have the promotion she’d earned because she didn’t have a degree. After her kids finished college, she was told she was too old to return to college and get her own degree.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) will give Lyman a resounding “yes” on Dec. 11 when she receives her Bachelor of Science during commencement ceremonies. UAH is a part of the University of Alabama System.

“I am getting my B.S. in business economics and computational analysis with a minor in business administration, a concentration in government contracts, and my focus is in management,” Lyman says. “I figured if I’m going, I’d get them all at the same time. Go big or go home.”

Lyman has faced a variety of challenges with that same spirit of determination and ambition.

“I’m the first one in my family to actually graduate from high school. My mother has a sixth-grade education; my father had a 10th-grade education, but he did go back and get his GED.”

Lyman got married, had two daughters and took a few classes at a local university. She and her husband divorced when the girls were 7 and 8, and Lyman returned to the workforce.

She was hired as a secretary at a tax office, where she learned how to do her own taxes. The following year she earned her IRS certification. When excessive tax-season hours infringed on time with her children, she moved to a mortgage company, again starting out as a secretary. She had her broker’s license in nine months and worked her way up to general manager.

Then Lyman went into banking.

“I worked my way up from a loan processor to a personal banker. I wanted to be a branch manager. They told me, ‘You don’t have the education.’”

Lyman kept expanding her banking skills. After she cleaned up compliance problems in the area of irrevocable life insurance trusts, she was running the department as the subject-matter expert, but the manager position was out of reach.

“I was very frustrated. There was nowhere else in the bank to go, no other departments, nothing. That was the catalyst.”

When Lyman began her UAH program in January 2020, she says she was just as nervous as any other student – despite having two college-educated daughters, grandchildren and a lifetime of real-world experience.

“Are they going to like me?” she asked herself. “Are the other students going to talk to me? Am I smart enough to do this? Am I making a fool of myself by being this age and going back to class?”

Except for that last question, all her answers were “Yes!”

Like the other students as well as her professors, Lyman learned how to navigate COVID’s virtual learning environment and its technical challenges. She fit right in with the study groups, and her younger classmates appreciated the snacks she’d bring. She made new friends, she had fun, and she earned the degree to take her forward professionally.

Lyman is glad she and her fiancé decided to move to Huntsville.

“I don’t think I would have gotten as much out of it at another college. UAH is smaller. It’s not a party school. These kids are really smart and really caring. I wouldn’t have gotten the same education somewhere else. Go Chargers!"


Kristina Hendrix

Elizabeth Gibisch