Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Woman, 95, to be oldest college graduate

When Nola Ochs' husband died in 1972, she began to take classes at the community college. She continued to take classes over the years. Then, in 2006, lacking only 30 hours to get a general studies degree, she moved from her farm to an apartment 100 miles away at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. She will get her degree this month.

Ochs beat out the record of Mozelle Richardson, who received her journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2004. Besides being the oldest graduate on record, the other exciting thing for her is the fact that her 21 year old granddaughter will be graduating with her. They have both enjoyed each other's company. Ochs said she has been accepted by the other students and she fits right in.

Todd Leahy, history department chairman, wondered at first if Ochs could keep up with the other students. After her second week, all doubts were gone. Now he wants to record oral histories with her after she graduates.

"I can tell them about it, but to have Nola in class adds a dynamic that can't be topped," Leahy said. "It's a firsthand perspective you seldom get."

Tom Nelson, chief operating officer of the American Association of Retired Persons, said Ochs' achievement should inspire all of us to reach our own goals and dreams.

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