Hitting the books…at age 95

By Staff
Leada Gore, Editor
When I was about 11, my mother decided she wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream and become a nurse. So, with a family to raise, she set out on the task of attending nursing school.
She selected a program at our local community college and two years later, she received her registered nurse’s degree. She graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, receiving the highest honors the program bestowed. She then went to work at a hospital as an RN.
We thought her years in school were complete. We were wrong.
Several years later – about 15 to be exact – she decided what she really wanted was a bachelor of science degree. She set out again, this time with one more child in the brood, to complete her education. It took a couple of years but she eventually graduated from a private university in Birmingham, again earning a 4.0 GPA and the Presidential Award given to the university’s top graduate. (Side note: The fancy silver cup she received for this honor is now in the basement and is used to hold car keys. My mother is nothing if not practical).
Without giving away too much, I can safely say mom qualified for AARP membership at the time of her graduation. And while this was a great accomplishment, mom has nothing on a woman I read about just this week.
Nola Ochs was among those graduating from Ford Hays State University in Kansas last weekend. Like many returning students, it took her a while to finish her degree. Hers took a bit longer than most, 30 years to be exact.
This number is even more remarkable when you discover Ochs didn’t start college until she was 65.
Last Saturday, Ochs, 95, became the world’s oldest college graduate. Ironically, she earned her degree in history, something I’m pretty sure she knows a lot about since she’s lived through a good bit of it.
Ochs said her academic career was identical to the other students, including her 21-year-old granddaughter who will also be graduating. Ochs said she researched papers online, spent hours in the library and socialized with the other students. There was no word on if she spent much time lounging around the student union building.
Like the other students, she said she is looking forward to finishing school and starting a career. In her case, she wants to be a storyteller on a cruise ship.
I think it’s great when people want to return to school, even if it does take them 30 years to get their diploma. I must tell you though, mom, I don’t know if we’re up for a doctorate degree anytime soon.

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