An 83-year-old man, who once dropped out of school in the sixth grade, will graduate with his doctorate degree on Friday.
Johnnie W. Jones is getting his degree in social work from Louisiana State University (LSU), The Advocate, Louisiana’s largest daily paper, reports.
“One of the guys who climbed Mount Everest — I don’t remember his name — when someone asked him why did he do it, he said because the mountain was there,” said Jones. “That’s pretty much my attitude toward knowledge. I’m pursuing it because it’s there.”
The Mississippi-native said he dropped out of school to help support his family following the start of World War II.
Jones joined the Marine Corps in 1953 and noticed that high school graduated were getting better duties, which inspired him to enroll in night school to earn his diploma. He was taking classes at a junior college before he was deployed to Vietnam, even taking classes from LSU in Vietnam through the school’s correspondence courses, writes The Advocate.
He got his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Hawaii and received his master’s degree in social work in 1975 from LSU, two years after he retired from the Marines.
In his eighties, after spending time working as a warden at the Louisiana Department of Corrections, he decided to pursue his doctorate while becoming an assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern University, per The Advocate.
“All of the students I have classes with, practically all of them are old enough to be my grandchildren, and they find it amazing that I would be subjecting myself to that kind of mental torture at my age where I’m retired from the Marines, retired from Corrections,” he said. “Why are you doing this? I can’t explain it to them.
The octogenarian seemingly brushed off the idea of his age being a hindrance, calling it an “artificial constraint.”
Jones said he plans to go to law school, but has no plans to practice law.
“It’s my intent to pursue higher education as long as I’m physically and mentally able to do so,” he said. “I don’t plan on stopping.”
Click here to see Jones speak about his own experience.