Grandmother Earns College Degree Aged 84
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Featured Image Credit: University of Minnesota
An 84-year-old grandmother from Minnesota has said she felt 'pure joy' after earning a degree almost seven decades after she first started university.
Betty Sandison left her small town of Renville, Minnesota, in 1955 to become the first person in her family to go to university, with plans to undertake a year-long course at the University of Minnesota to become a nurse.
She earned the certificate then began classes for a teaching degree, which would have led her to earn her bachelor's, but she decided part-way through she no longer wanted to pursue teaching and left the course around the same time she met her husband, when she began to follow his career moves.
Betty was 25 to 28 credits short of graduating at the time, but never completed her degree as she then had two daughters to raise with her husband. After she and her husband split up in 1979 Betty returned to school to earn an associate's degree to become a registered nurse, leading to her to have a career as a nurse, which spanned the following 30 years.
Betty eventually retired from her job in 2013, 58 years after she first started university, and while chatting with friends one day she revealed she had never lost her desire to finish what she had started.
“I was out to lunch with friends, and we were talking about bucket lists and things we wanted to do. I said I always wanted to graduate from the U,” she told WCCO News.
Betty set about making her dream a reality by enrolling in classes at the university in the autumn of 2018, when she found herself faced with a bigger campus and new obstacles.
“That computer business just almost did me in,” Betty explained.
A week after her 84th birthday, Betty Sandison graduated with a bachelor's degree more than 60 years in the making. Learn more about her incredible journey: https://t.co/zBmE5Cu95T #UMNproud pic.twitter.com/TpMCOuNE8E— University of Minnesota (@UMNews) May 16, 2022
Things became even more tough when the coronavirus pandemic meant Betty would have to rely on the internet for her classes, and she ultimately decided to drop the courses she had tried to take online.
She never gave up, though, and on 7 May Betty graduated with a degree in multidisciplinary studies. She wore a cap and gown to mark the achievement at the graduation ceremony, saying she felt 'just pure joy, pure joy, pure satisfaction' that she had attained her goal of walking across Northrop Mall, where the event was held.
“You need to do what you want to do or what your goals are. Don’t let anybody stop you,” she said afterwards.
With her long-awaited degree now complete, Betty has said she's already started thinking about a new goal she'll be able to work towards.
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