May 11, 2009 — Dolly Parton was the first person in her family to earn a high school diploma, and on Friday, she topped that by earning an honorary degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Dolly sang "Rocky Top," the institution's theme song, during her appearance, where she addressed more than 1,000 graduates, according to the Associated Press.
"I was just an average student," she said. "And if I had one regret, it is that I didn't further my education. Either that, or that I didn't really kiss Elvis."
The day after Dolly's high school graduation in East Tennessee, she moved to Nashville, where she became one of country music's biggest successes and greatest ambassadors. She's used her position to further education in the U.S., establishing her Imagination Library, which provides books to children in 47 states.
The collegiate honor came at a time when she has a production, 9 To 5: The Musical, on Broadway and when there's some discussion about a movie that would celebrate her life. She told USA Today that Reese Witherspoon, who's in the running for the role, would need a bit of work to be believable: "We'd have to get her a big ol' boob job!"
Dolly closed her appearance at UT with a rather appropriate quip from one of her own songs. "I wish you joy and happiness," she told the students. "But above all else, I wish you love. And I will always love you."