Darlene Mullins began her college journey in 1962 at Tennessee State University, her time at TSU, however, was cut short.
Mullins, a former Miss Glamour runner up and Miss New Jersey, quickly fell in love with John Mullins, a senior from St. Louis, Missouri.
“Love got in the way,” Mullins, who will celebrate 54 years of marriage in August, told OSG.
During a 2014 interview with TSU’s Alumni Life, a campus magazine, Mullins said, “I thought he was the finest thing walking on campus.”
Mullins said the two dated for a while, and then got married a short time later. John completed his degree program in 1964 while she took on the role of homemaker taking care of their house and raising a family.
“I came to TSU because I ran track. I wanted to go to the 1964 Olympics. Wilma Rudolph was my idol and I was on my way. I get to TSU and meet the great coach (Ed) Temple, but we bumped heads, because I had to make a choice between his track team or John Mullins,” she said.
Throughout their marriage, John and Darlene have been nothing but supportive of one another, living in six different states over the course of their marriage.
Darlene says she never forgot about her academic goals, so the two moved back to Nashville in 2013 so she could “finish what she started.”
“Something kept nagging at me. I always told my children to make sure they finish what they started and I kind of felt it was time to live up to my own advice,” she said. “John did not hesitate for one bit; he said ‘let’s go”
Darlene was taking as many as 20 credits at a time and maintained top grades.
“My goal was to come back and finish at Tennessee State. I didn’t know at the time how long it was going to take, I just knew I had to do it,” she said.
On May 6, 2017, Darlene Mullins – a grandmother of four – will be among 800 graduates at the undergraduate spring commencement in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on TSU’s main campus.
“I am really looking forward to this. I am very excited and just overjoyed to see this day. My graduation from college, for me, confirms that I completed what I started more than 50 years ago. I am happy,” Darlene said.