INSPIRED: Opelika’s “Bow Fairy” earns AU Masters Degree in secret

Alabama News

AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – An inspiring story takes us to the campus of Auburn University as one Opelika woman reveals the secret she’s been keeping from her adult children and closest friends for more than a year.

Kate Asbury Larkin radiates joy to all who know her, and Larkin knows just about everyone. Born and raised in Opelika, Larkin’s worked with Auburn University’s Office of Alumni Affairs for 12 years.

Larkin may be best known as “The Bow Fairy” – she’s gifted thousands of homemade bows to families during times of celebration or when they need cheering up.

“The graduation bows, I do about 75 to 100 every spring, and the baby bows – well – there’s no telling how many baby bows I’ve done,” said Larkin.

Larkin’s be kind motto even landed her a spot on Oprah’s Favorite things with the Volkswagen Beetle giveaway back in 2010. She still drives the light blue Beetle with a B KIND AU tag.

“I was born in Opelika, graduated from Opelika High School, and still live in Opelika. I love this whole community, and I love working for Auburn University,” said Larkin.

Larkin is a people person. So when the pandemic hit last year, quarantining away from a community she loved and is highly active in was a challenge.

“I’ve always said I work at Auburn; I want an Auburn degree. So, I live by myself, and I don’t even have pets. I was pretty much home by myself, so it gave me something to look forward to every week. I saw an opportunity and jumped on it. But I didn’t want to tell anyone because, at first, I did not know if I would be able to do it. I haven’t been in school in 40 years,” said Larkin.

Larkin told no one, not even her kids, she was back in school working towards her Masters Degree in Adult Education. Larkin took online classes and eventually was able to take a socially distanced in-person class, all while she continued working. Her professors and classmates kept her secret for more than a year. When Larkin learned she would graduate at the end of April, she finally told her family and friends by sharing her printed graduation announcements.

“We always say it’s never too late to graduate. I have my undergraduate from Ole’ Miss and another Masters degree from Troy. I just wanted a degree from Auburn, and as I started getting into it, I was like, I can do this,” said Larkin.

Next Friday, April 30, at 61-years-old, Larkin will not be working AU’s graduation for the first time in a decade. Instead, she’ll be walking across the stage and receiving her degree inside Jordan-Hare stadium.

“We have a setup room called “Get it together” where we help graduates with their cap and gowns. We have breath mints and band-aids if they walk a blister on their foot. It’s a lot of fun and a great place to work because everyone is so happy. So this time, they will help me get ready, I guess. I am very excited,” said Larkin.

With a 4.0 GPA, Kate Ashbury Larkin, “The Bow Fairy” of Lee County, has certainly earned her very own AU Orange and Blue mailbox bow. Congratulations to our community’s Be Kind Kate.

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