Former Middle School Dropout Gets Her College Degree at 89

An 89-year-old woman who dropped out of school in the sixth grade never gave up on her dream of getting an education.

Ella Washington graduated with her associate’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at Liberty University on Saturday, becoming the oldest graduate in the school’s Class of 2018, the school announced.

Washington grew up in North Carolina during the 1930’s and had to drop out of school to work on her family’s farm.

Knowing that she wanted more out of her life and for her 12 children, Washington took adult education classes and earned her GED in 1978.

“She has always been a lifelong learner,” Washington’s daughter Ellen Mitchell told Liberty University. “Her desire for learning and for pursuing an education became a family tradition. She taught all of her children how to read, write, and do math prior to their beginning school, just as her grandmother taught her and her siblings.”

Mitchell encouraged her mother to get her college degree, advise she followed when she enrolled in Liberty’s online program in 2012.

“Liberty is a great university, “Washington said. “I would recommend Liberty to anyone because I did well.”

She plans to get her bachelor’s degree in history at the school.

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“To me, history is a great subject,” she said. “Everybody should know their history and learn more about it. A lot of people don’t know much about history. There’s nothing wrong with learning more.”

Washington said that her fellow Class of 2018 graduates should never waiver from using education to their fullest potential.

“Education will help you make the best life for yourselves and those who come after you,” she said.


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