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Seniors Who Completed Their Higher Education in Their 90s

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Nowadays it is very common for people to go back to school at any point of their lives, either to start their education or continue it. Most seniors decide to pursue a diploma, certificate or degree when they hit retirement, or soon after. However there are some seniors, who are well into their nineties, graduating from college! They are an inspiration to all of us and proof that you are never too old to learn. Here is a bit of the stories and words of wisdom of five of them.

Doreetha Daniels

Doreetha is the oldest graduate ever in the history of the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California. She decided to pursue her associate degree in Social Sciences when she was 93! Even though she had to stop her studies due to personal and health issues, she never gave up. She was still so determined to finish her education that at 99 she finally graduated. Doreetha’s advice: “Don’t give up. Do it. Don’t let anybody discourage you. Say that, ‘I”m going to do it’, and do it for yourself.”

Anthony Brutto

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Anthony’s seventy five year education journey is inspiring! He is one of the oldest graduates in the history of West Virginia University. He received his Regents Bachelor of Arts degree at 94, but his love for the arts, woodworking to be more specific, began when he was very young. He enrolled in College in 1939 and after changing his major a few times, but he had to stop his studies as he was drafted and served in WWII. Years later, his dream of going back to school was put on hold as he became his wife’s main caregiver and then had several jobs as a machinist. Finally, he was able to go back to school and achieved his goal! Anthony’s priority: “It was always important to me to graduate.”

Alfonso Gonzalez

Alfonso completed his education and degree at 96
Photo Credit: Michael Glier/USC

For over sixty years Alfonso thought he had completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology, but due to a minor issue that was not the case. At 96, he is the oldest graduate in the history of the University of Southern California. He served during WWII and upon his return in 1947, he enrolled in College. In recent years his family requested a copy of his degree as he was not able to attend the commencement ceremony. To their surprise, and his, they found out that he was one credit short of completing his degree! The University came to his aid by allowing him to take a one credit course especially crafted for him, and even awarded him with the zoology degree which is no longer offered. Alfonso’s journey: “It took me 65 years to complete my studies but I did.”

Alma Kocialek

Alma completed her education and degree at 89
Photo Credit: Celeta Irvin/CBC News

Even though Alma is 89, we had to include in this blog as she graduated this past June 21! Alma is the oldest person to ever graduate from a Toronto university, York University. She started her degree in 1978 in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s studies, but she had to stop as she needed to work. After her husband passed away from cancer in 2011, she decided to go back to school. She had a hard time getting familiar with the technology needed to get her school work done, but she persevered! She became an inspiration to everyone, especially to her classmates. Some of Alma’s hardest moments: “Sometimes I would come back in the winter, it would be dark and my car would be covered in snow and I would spend 15 minutes clearing the snow of my car.”

Dr. Allan Stewart

Allan completed his education and masters degree at 97
Photo Credit: AFP

Some people like Allan get bored and decide to go back to school! Allan completed four degrees after graduating from dentistry back in 1936. At 97, he received his Masters degree in Clinical Sciences from Australia’s Southern Cross University. His love for learning and eagerness to keep himself mentally active are what prompt him to go back to school every time. He has encouraged other seniors to start or continue with their education. His words of wisdom: “It is never too late to expand your mind, make new friends and challenge yourself to achieve something worthwhile.”

These five seniors are not only incredible but role models to all of us. As Sydney J. Harris once said: ” The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” If you are retired senior who loves to learn, meet new people and broaden your horizons, starting or continuing your education might be great for you!

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