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At 89, oldest graduate achieves her educational goals

Black Women in Education

At 89, oldest graduate achieves her educational goals

By  Liberty University News Service

 

While putting her 12 children through school and working full time to provide for her family, Ella Washington, 89, never abandoned her goal to continue her education. On Saturday, she walked across the stage at Liberty University’s Commencement as the oldest graduate in the Class of 2018, earning her associate degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Washington grew up in rural North Carolina during the 1930s, when education came second to working on the family farm. She dropped out of school in the sixth grade.

But when she got married and had children of her own, she wanted more for them.

“She has always been a lifelong learner,” said Washington’s daughter Ellen Mitchell. “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.”

Thanks to her faith in God and her perseverance, Washington enrolled in an adult education program and earned her GED diploma in 1978 at age 49. She had always wanted to go to college, however. In 2012, she enrolled in Liberty’s online program after a recommendation from Mitchell.

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

But she isn’t stopping at her associate degree; she is already working toward a bachelor’s degree in history at Liberty.

“To me, history is a great subject,” she said. “Everybody should know their history and learn more …

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