Degree of emotion
Graduate accepts diplomas for herself and her late husband
December 17, 2016
Reprinted with permission of Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
By Pamela Powers
Mary Rahman didn’t accept just one degree Saturday, Dec. 17, at
After six years of studying and holding a full-time job as an
Allina Health clinic manager in Woodbury, Minn., Rahman, 55, earned her degree
in business management.
An exciting time but one she was unable to share
with her husband.
In addition to her own diploma, Mary accepted a
degree in quality management for Steve Rahman posthumously. He died Feb. 10 in
a snowmobile crash 15 miles southwest of Tower in far northeastern Minnesota
after missing a curve on the Taconite State Trail and striking a tree.
He was to graduate in December 2017.
“I think my son, Nathan, and I and my daughter,
Laura, are all very humbled UW-Stout would do this,” Mary said, her voice
breaking with emotion.
Mary received her diploma first and then returned
to the stage to receive Steve’s, as Provost Patrick Guilfoile announced the
Renee Surdick, UW-Stout’s program director for
the Bachelor of Science degree in management, said Steve had to have completed
significant course work to receive the posthumous degree. It also had to be
approved by Guilfoile and Chancellor Bob Meyer.
“It is very unusual,” Surdick said of the
university to award a posthumous degree.
Both Mary and Steve attended UW-Stout through
online classes and had a few classes together. He was a systems engineer and
project manager with Cannon Equipment in Cannon Falls, Minn.
Nathan Rahman graduated from UW-Stout in
December 2015 with a degree in packaging engineering. He now works at
Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee. Laura Rahman is working at U.S. Bank in the
Mary said she first learned about the online
degree program when she visited UW-Stout with her son and decided to transfer
from St. Catherine University in the Twin Cities, where she was attending
“I found school interesting,” she said. “It was
hard. I would have a full day at work and then work on classes. With online
classes you could balance your work out more. If you were busy during the week
you could get more of your class work done on weekends.”
Nathan is proud of his mother for graduating. “It
think it’s great she has been so determined and been chugging along to get her
degree,” he said.
He also is pleased his mother will receive his
father’s degree after his death.
Married for 30 years, the Rahmans in December
2015 moved into a new house in Hastings, Minn., that they had built as their
retirement home, Mary said. Her husband worked at Cannon Equipment all the
years they were married.
“I feel like his co-workers were about like our
family,” Mary said.
Her husband loved his family and loved to be
around people, she said. “He loved to be outside,” she said. “He was a hunter.”
Every year he went on a snowmobile trip with
friends and family and had told her the February trip would be his last because
he wanted to get into ATV riding, Mary said.
Now that she is graduating, Mary, who went back
to school to accomplish a personal goal of getting a bachelor’s degree, hopes
to spend more time volunteering.
Top: Mary Rahman, right, crosses the stage to accept a posthumous degree for her late husband, Steve. At left is academic staff representative Linda Young.
Second: Mary Rahman holds a picture of her late husband, Steve. Leader-Telegram photo by Pamela Powers
Third and fourth: Mary Rahman is greeted by Chancellor Bob Meyer after receiving her husband's degree.