Thereâ€™s always time to go back and get a degree. One great-grandmother took that mantra to heart when she received her bachelorâ€™s degree at the age of 89.
Betty Reilly never finished high school, but at the age of 78 decided it finally time to get it done. Living with her husband in Sunrise, Florida, the self-professed book wormÂ was drawn to a job opportunity at the local library. Disappointed to hear that the job required a high school diploma, she used that as fuel for her pursuit of higher education.
Reilly initially set out to get her GED to meet the requirements for the librarian position, but her plans changed when a teacher in a prep class told her that an essay she wrote was â€œpublishable.â€
â€œThatâ€™s all I had to hear,â€ she said.
Reilly had limited funds to pay for college and didnâ€™t have a car, so she applied for a federal Pell Grant, which took care of most of the tuition, books and fees, and took an hour-long bus ride to class.
When she arrived at Broward Community College in Davie, Florida in 2007, she admitted she was â€œshyâ€ at first and received some â€œoddâ€ stares from her classmates.
â€œThere were all these young, bright kids who know the technology,â€ she said. â€œAll I could do [on a computer] was get my email and get my horoscope.â€
â€œTwice, I was on eBay,â€ she added.
After receiving her associateâ€™s degree, Reilly attended the FAU campus in Davie, Florida to go for her bachelorâ€™s degree in English Literature.
Her 59-year-old daughter, Kathy Johnson, said the family was â€œoverwhelmedâ€ with joy for her.
â€œSheâ€™s wanted it for a long time,â€ Johnson told ABC News. â€œWatching her brought joy to every member of my family, and it was the proudest moment for all of us.â€
Reilly is â€œone of the oldestâ€ students to graduate from FAU with a bachelorâ€™s degree, the schoolâ€™s chief press officer, Lisa Metcalf, told ABC News.
â€œThe whole audience started chanting [her name] because they were so excited for her,” she said.
Reilly plans to apply for a scholarship for a masterâ€™s degree, but her professors, with whom she is on a first-name basis, have invited her to sit in as a guest in their classes if she doesnâ€™t receive one.
â€œOnce Iâ€™m out of class, weâ€™re friends,â€ she said. â€œWhy stop now?â€
(PartsÂ of this article appeared on ABC)
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