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Pamela Wood finished her last required course for her radio-TV-film major at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1994.

She fulfilled her general education requirements and took all of her core coursework. However, her participation in the non-credit capstone class wasn’t recorded, and she discovered she wasn’t going to get her diploma.

“During that time, I was going through a rough period and just never took care of it,” she said.

After landing a job in radio advertising, Wood felt finalizing the details was just a technicality. She knew she met all of the requirements and didn’t feel the paper diploma was necessary.

But Wood’s husband always encouraged her to investigate her options and find out if she could receive her diploma. As each year passed, Wood began to feel like it would be more and more difficult to go back and clear up the misunderstanding.

Finally in 2008, after being out of school for almost 14 years, Wood contacted UW Oshkosh. She explained her situation but ran into a complication: The capstone course that wasn’t recorded on Wood’s transcripts was no longer offered.

“Because so much time had lapsed, the requirements for the major changed. They told me I had to take 22 additional credits,” she said. “I hoped there was a different option.”

Wood contacted the University’s Graduation Project, which works with returning students who are close to graduating by giving them a step-by-step academic plan and connecting them with University offices and departments. Because Wood had completed all of the requirements that had been in place in 1994, the Graduation Project staff helped her get the new requirements waived, and she received her diploma in 2009.

“I knew in my heart that I didn’t have my degree, but I also knew that I completed the requirements and should have received one,” she said. “It feels really good that I got it taken care of. It’s kind of silly to have gone through all of that work and not have my diploma.”

For more information about the Graduation Project, visit

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