Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Woman Becomes Grand Old Graduate At 94
A Californian woman has proved that education is a lifelong pursuit by graduating from college at the grand old age of 94.
Hazel Soares, who has six children and more than 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, has become the world's second oldest person to earn a degree.
She admitted that in collecting her art history honours she had fulfilled a 78-year ambition.
Born in Richmond, California in 1915, the Great Depression had stripped her of her first opportunity to attend college after graduating from school in 1932.
"Unless you had some help, it would have been impossible to go," Ms Soares said. "However I never lost the desire.
"It's taken me quite a long time because I've had a busy life. I'm finally achieving it, and it makes me feel really good."
The veteran was congratulated by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who delivered the keynote speech at Mills College, an all-women's school in Oakland.
She was cheered on by classmates and family members during the ceremony.
"The biggest thing that we can all learn is that we're never too old," said Regina Hungerford, Ms Soares' youngest child.
But her mother does not plan to relax after finally achieving her goal.
She will forgo the common post-graduation gap year to work as a museum guide in the San Francisco Bay area.
"There's no reason why you could not go back," Ms Soares added.
"Some people do give up the idea or postpone the idea. It's too late. It's too much work. They may not realise that, once you try it, it's exciting to go to school."
She has still got a little bit of learning left to do to claim the world record though.
In 2007, Nola Ochs of Kansas became the world's oldest graduate when she received her honours from Fort Hays State University, aged 95.
Now 98, last week she proved she is in a class of her own and pushed the academic-age bar higher by collecting a master's degree in liberal studies.