Ballardsville father, son get matching ICC degrees

FULTON – Jerry Walton was just glad to see his son graduate from high school, but now he graduated college with a 4.0 grade point average.
This spring Dustin Walton, 29, earned his associate’s degree in electrical technology from Itawamba Community College. When he walked across the stage for his diploma, his father was right there with him. Next in line, in fact.
Just like his son, Jerry Walton, 54, just earned his associate’s degree in electrical technology. Following a layoff from his employer of 22 years, Super Sagless, Walton decided it was time to start anew.
“Most newer factories nowadays want you to have an education,” the Ballardsville area man said. “At first, and I hate to say it, I was scared. I’d been working a job for all these years, and then all of a sudden I’m in class with a teacher telling me this and that.”
But Walton said the time was right. Because he was laid off and going back to school, he was able to receive unemployment benefits for the duration of his education, relaxing the pressures of attending school after more than 30 years of absence and trying to find a new job.
“It’s bad intimidating, but it was a great opportunity,” he said. “I should have already had this out of the way years ago.”
In a way, his son’s story is pretty similar. Dustin graduated high school and took a job in Kansas. But when he lost his job there, he decided to come back home and further his education.
“I couldn’t be 900 miles away from home with nothing to do,” he said. “He was in school, and I didn’t have anything going on for me right then, so I just joined, too.”
He decided to pursue the same course of study as his father, only a semester behind.
During his third semester, Jerry Walton was offered a job with Day-Brite in Tupelo, which he accepted.
The rewards were multi-faceted for both Waltons. Certainly, there was the financial gain. But there was also the shared experience of being in school together – something few sons and fathers can call their own.
Both acknowledge this bond, albeit with few words.
“Not too many people get to stand next to their dads during graduation,” Dustin said.

Contact Adam Armour at (662) 862-3141 or adam.armour@journalinc.com.

Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times