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50 years in the making, woman takes part in cherished KU graduation tradition

By Kris Ketz

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KMBC) — A Shawnee woman waited 50 years to take part in a cherished KU graduation tradition.

Connie Puett graduated from KU in 1972 but she never got to take part in the tradition of walking down the hill to the stadium on graduation day. That is until Sunday.

“Was walking down the hill everything you thought it would be?” KMBC’s Kris Ketz asked Puett.

“It was actually more than I thought it would be,” said Puett, a retired teacher.

Puett graduated in 1972 but because of bad weather on graduation day, everything was moved inside to Allen Fieldhouse. There was no walk down the hill to the stadium like generations of KU grads have done before.

“It is the tradition at KU to walk through the campanile and, you know, down the hill to graduation,” Puett said.

It wasn’t just the class of ‘72. The class of 1970 never got to walk down the hill either. So when the KU Alumni Association began planning 50-year class reunions, the university said yes, allowing those graduates the chance to finally walk on Sunday with the class of 2022.

For Puett, who’s spent the last 50 years watching her husband, son, daughter, and her daughter-in-law walk down the KU hill, this was a big deal.

“And it was just after walking through, I wasn’t sure what to expect, you know, walking down the, I was always on the other side on the lawn, cheering on family members,” Puett said. “You know, it’s like it really went too fast except it like took forever to get all of these graduates down the hill so it was awesome.”

Puett said she is forever grateful to the KU Alumni Association. They tried to do that two years ago, but COVID-19 got in the way. There were about 60 graduates who finally walked down the hill. There were some anxious moments, especially when it rained early Sunday but the sun came out and it was a wonderful day.

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