GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) Craig Matta attended East Carolina University from 1966 to 1970, but he never graduated.

Following retirement, the #1 item on his bucket list? To finally get that degree.

So at age 71, over 50 years later, Matta is making his dream come true.

Craig even said he had a favorite teacher when coming back to ECU, Professor Kendell Thornton.

“If you get a chance to take one of his classes, do it. But strap in, it’s going to be a ride. But a fun ride. – Craig Matta ECU Graduate

He says it may have been a blessing in disguise not getting his degree until now.

He had to work harder and prove himself, and probably would not have had the job that he loved doing for nearly 30 years.

His advice to other graduates, “The piece of paper gets you in the door, that’s all it really does. You’re not going to be handed anything, you have to perform and understand you are living by your own actions and the better you do the better off you’re going to be”Matta

Craig Matta will be 1 of 5,000 seniors graduating from East Carolina University, class of 2020.

Although he is disappointed he won’t get to walk across the stage like he always dreamed, he is still ecstatic to be an official college graduate.

ECU’s Virtual Graduation Ceremony will be held May 8 at 10:00 am where Craig will be 1 of 6 students being honored.

What else is on Craig’s bucket list???

He only had two other items…

#1 – Finish his degree

#2 – Find out more about his ancestry and genealogical tree

#3 – Visit every state park in North Carolina

Craig has completed #1 and #2.

His wife and him have rented an RV to continue to visit state parks across the state and fulfill his last dream. He says he has already visited about half.

Pirate Nation loves you Craig!