80-year-old grandmother to receive college degree

National

WILLMINGTON, NC. (CNN) – An 80-year-old grandmother in North Carolina is finishing what she started more than 50 years ago — she’s graduating from college.

She’ll walk in her graduation ceremony at University of North Carolina Wilmington on Saturday.

When Leita McCormick walks across the stage at UNCW on Saturday, she’ll receive her first college degree.

“All of my children, my grandchildren, everybody had a degree,” McCormick said. and I said ‘you know I think that is something I would like to add to my name.'”

McCormick took her first college course in 1966 and spent twenty years moving with her family all over the country, taking courses wherever they moved, but she never finished a degree.

McCormick lost her husband to Alzheimer’s disease several years ago.

“After he passed away, it was time,” she said. “It was time to devote myself to something that — for me to accomplish.”

She never worried about it being too late in her life.

“Because I knew I had it in me, you know, to do it,” she said. “Why not, you know?”

But she certainly faced some challenges.

“If you were to ask what was the most difficult part, I’ll just tell you its getting up to grade on the computer,” she said. “I mean, believe me, it was all very new to me!”

Despite those challenges — Rick Olsen said she proved to be an exemplary student, earning one of the highest awards in the department of communication studies.

“It wasn’t because she was a novelty act. It was because we sat around and said ‘who blended academic achievement, personal growth, embodied our ideals, embodied what we call our core skills that we want all our students to have — civility, responsibility, curiosity, problem solving — all of these things we know matter in the marketplace and matter in life’ and we said ‘who is that person?’ and we all went ‘it’s her.'”

McCormick’s Bachelor of Arts is in Communications Studies.

She said after graduation, she plans to recommit to music and volunteer work.

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