Local teacher earns doctorate degree at 73

Sometimes a lifetime of hard work is rewarded, and sometimes that reward is something you would never imagine. When local retired World Geography teacher Carolyn Duncan Cecil stood at her graduation ceremony at 73 years old, the moment she received a doctorate was almost surreal.

When the leadership of Kingsbury Bible College conferred upon Cecil a Doctor of Ministry degree in July 2019, it was the fulfilment of her life-long work, but she never expected the degree. With her gray and white curls flowing from under her graduation cap, Cecil was not the picture of the usual graduate.

Dr. Carolyn Cecil earned her doctorate from Kingsbury Bible College at age 73. She is the author of all the books shown on the shelves behind her. Cecil taught for many years at William Byrd High School and William Byrd Middle School.

The project that led Cecil to this honor began nearly 30 years before. While a full-time teacher at William Byrd High School, she began writing Sunday School lessons for her local church. What started out as just a few lessons soon became a 12-week course that she would teach.

Her class grew and as more students signed up, they would tell Cecil that before her lessons they had not learned how to apply the Scripture to the everyday problems they were facing. As she answered questions and prayed with her students, she began realizing that so many people were struggling. They had needs that the teaching, programs, and services provided in many churches and community groups were not answering. Cecil decided to write lessons to meet these needs.

While still teaching full-time, Cecil would stay up late into the night working on her lessons. After decades of research, writing, editing, and presenting, she ended up creating a 42-lesson curriculum that she called “Equipped – Equipping and Empowerment for Christians and Lay Ministers.”

Cecil’s book has a practical design. She wanted to give ordinary Christians the Biblical background they needed to face their own struggles, and the confidence that they could then reach out and help those around them.

Her curriculum was so thorough that when she presented the work to Kingsbury Bible College as a possible teaching curriculum, Kingsbury President Dr. Jerry Dotson and former Jacksonville Theological Seminary instructor Dr. Roger Graves said that it was the most comprehensive lay ministry resource they had ever received and that it was equal to a doctoral dissertation. And so, Carolyn’s lifelong work earned her a doctorate degree.

Cecil has self-published her Equipped series, as well as seven other children’s books, which are available on Amazon or from her website

The Equipped Series by Dr. Carolyn Cecil

She is not done yet, as she is currently working on getting two other books published.

While publishing has taken up most of her time lately, she is continuing to teach Equipped and is also planning to put her Doctor of Ministry degree to work for Kingsbury Bible College.

Cecil grew up in the Roanoke Valley. During her teen years, she went to Lord Botetourt High School and sold corn and tomatoes at the Roanoke City Market during the summers.

Cecil graduated from Madison College/JMU in 1968 and spent a total of 37 years working for Roanoke County Schools. Most of that time was spent teaching World Geography at William Byrd Middle and William Byrd High Schools in Vinton.

She married William Cecil (who died in 1991) and has two adult daughters. While her favorite subject was World Geography, she believed that the key to success in life was to faithfully follow the path presented in the Word of God.

Cecil attends Grace Family Church in Vinton. When she is at her daughter’s house in Moneta, she attends East Lake Community Center.

“I have learned a lot at both churches,” Cecil said.

Cecil’s books and more information about her classes are available at

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