It’s never too late to earn a college degree

Hazel Soares earned a degreeEveryone loves an inspirational story. Overcoming differences, falling in love and fitting in are everyday stories but today I read one about Hazel Soares. Hazel is a 94-year-old great grandmother that just earned her bachelor’s degree in art history at Mills College in Oakland.

Born in Richmond, California, Hazel said she always wanted to attend college. She was born in 1915 and graduated from high school during the great depression which halted her education.

“Unless you had some help, it would have been impossible to go to college,” Soares said. “However I never lost the desire to go.”

She waited until she was 79 to start taking college courses. She spent six years at Chabot College taking classes and finally earned her Associate’s Degree when she was 85. After that, she enrolled at Mill’s College in 2007.

Hazel has a large family, she was married twice, has six children of her own and 40 grand children and great grandchildren. Statistically, she is believed to be the second oldest person to graduate from college. Instead of earning a criminal justice degree or a marketing degree Hazel studies art history because she plans to use her degree to work as a docent at a local museum.

“We are really amazed and very proud of my mom,” said Regina Hungerford, Soares’ youngest child. ”The biggest thing that we can all learn is that we’re never too old.”

Hazel hopes that others realize that it is never too late to go back to school and get a college education. Among other things, Hazel still drives and visits her doctor only once every three years to make sure she’s OK. She also said she doesn’t take any prescription medications.

Kudos Hazel, for being an inspiration to all of us.

“There’s no reason why you could not go back,” Soares said.”Some people do give up the idea or postpone the idea. It’s too late. It’s too much work. They may not realize that once you try it it’s exciting to go to school.”

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