Kilmartin: Delayed graduation does not delay gratification
Although Donovan Kilmartin finished his undergraduate coursework over the summer, his degree process was not complete until he walked across the stage in front of two of the most important people in his life.
Kilmartin, a three-time NCAA Champion heptathlete, waited until his parents, Jim and Carol, could return to the country to watch the most important event in his young life. The Kilmartins work with U.S. troops at Kuwait Naval Base (KNB) on the Persian Gulf. KNB is a small joint-forces base that typically houses 1,800 troops. Jim heads the morale, welfare and recreation division, overseeing the sports tournaments and fitness activities for the location.
On leave from their jobs, the Kilmartins traveled to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving with extended family, including Donovan, before making the trip to Austin to receive one of the best Christmas presents a son could give his parents.
“Donovan could have walked in May but he had one class in the summer to finish his degree,” reflected the elder Kilmartin. “My wife and I were away with the American troops so he decided to put it off until December so we could come see him. My wife and I have our master’s degrees but we never made our graduations. We thought we should come see his.”
“It was pretty important. For me, getting a degree and a frame is enough of a ceremony,” commented the younger Kilmartin. “For them, it was more important for them to watch me complete it. It was closure for them on this chapter in my life. It was important to make them happy.
“They flew back for Christmas and graduation -- they killed two birds with one stone,” he continued. “They are only allowed to be in the country for a certain amount of time so it’s really nice that they love me enough to spend that time with me.”
While graduation was a special moment for the Kilmartin family, Donovan’s career at Texas has been filled with memorable moments. He has earned three NCAA Indoor Championships, six All-America honors, four Big 12 Conference Championships, nine All-Big 12 selections and two ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-America selections.
Last year he was given the highest academic award any male student-athlete at Texas can earn -- the Texas Exes Leadership Award.
“He’s always been a real good student,” said Jim. “He was valedictorian of his high school class and academically, he could have gone to any school in the nation. When he came here, engineering was what he wanted to do. With Texas having the number one school in the world in petroleum engineering, it’s been a good fit for him. He and Coach [Bubba] Thornton get along very well. He’s been a great representative of what a student-athlete should be.”