Dave MedlockCollat accounting student Dave Medlock strongly believes in the adage, “It is better to learn late than never.” At age 35, Dave is an unconventional undergraduate student, returning to higher education after having left school more than a decade ago.

On Saturday he leads Collat’s graduating students into the commencement ceremonies by carrying the school’s banner. He’ll also receive a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Carrying the Collat School of Business banner at commencement is a prestigious honor given to one student each semester. Dave was selected for the honor based on his outstanding academic record and persistent drive to complete his education, a drive shared by many of his fellow Collat students.

Dave originally left college in 2004 to start a family with the birth of his eldest daughter, Hailee. His studies remained incomplete when his second daughter, Brooke, was born five years later.

His unfinished education always bothered him, Dave said. At age 30, he ran out of excuses. “I accomplish everything I set my mind to, but I had to stop giving myself reasons not to do it,” he said. He decided to return to school.

Dave blamed his academic hiatus on a lack of focus.

“I didn’t know what my passion was,” Dave said. Before he returned to UAB, Dave spent time in the workforce, including a high-powered position at Bama Foods, where he oversaw the introduction of Dunkin Donuts in Birmingham.

“They gave me the responsibility to create an accounting practice where I’d oversee accounts and inventory. I had no prior experience with it, so I had to figure it out as I went,” he said. That role led to a deep appreciation of accounting. When he returned to UAB, he was focused. He knew what he wanted to study.

The road to earn his accounting degree wasn’t easy. In 2015 while Dave was in his sophomore year, the mother of Hailee and Brooke passed away – and with her passing came the struggle of raising two daughters alone. But that heartache cemented Dave’s drive to succeed.

“Life is short,” he said. “If there’s anything I can tell my girls, it’s to make goals and see them through.”

During his tenure at UAB, Dave served as treasurer UAB’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter, an international honors organization for financial information students, and completed the Business Honors program led by Assistant Professor Stephen Yoder. He also studied abroad this spring, participating in Dr. Mickey Bunn’s innovation and economics course in Italy during which he explored the facilities of high-end luxury automobile brands Ducati and Lamborghini as well as visited medieval castles and coliseums in Verona and a plant that produces traditional balsamic vinaigrette.

Outside of class, Dave enjoys sports and is awaiting UAB Football’s return.

After graduation, he plans to take on an internship and return next spring to pursue his Master of Accounting degree. But for now, he said, he’s excited to graduate.