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Black Women Who Graduated at Old Age

Black Women Who Graduated at Old Age

Black women are shattering norms and aiming higher than ever in education, careers, fitness, and more. The progress seen in 2024 is truly inspiring.

Historically, black women were often confined to roles as wives, primarily responsible for household chores and childbearing. They had limited opportunities to pursue personal ambitions or individuality.

Even during the feminist movement that began in 1848, black women faced significant disadvantages due to classism, racism, and sexism. Despite being pivotal in driving the feminist agenda, their contributions often went unnoticed and unrecognized.

Celebrating Black Women Achieving Academic Milestones at Old Age

Sarah Simpkin (102)

At 102 years old, Sarah Simpkins fulfilled her lifelong dream of earning a college degree. She recently graduated from Brightpoint Community College’s Early Childhood Education Program in Chester, Virginia, alongside her granddaughter, Halima Shepherd Crawford. 

“I can’t even express my emotions right now,” Halimah told WLBT. “It was all an idea, and we’re here now. I’m just so excited for my grandmother that she accomplished what she wanted.”

Ms. Sarah expressed her gratitude, saying, “I feel very grateful to God for letting me do whatever I do. Thank you, God.” 

Simpkins had to leave Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, when she became pregnant at 20. 

She focused on raising her 12 children but never gave up on her dream. “It’s something that I had to do,” she said. “I’m very, very grateful that God has enabled me to do this.”

Violet Edwards (96)  

Violet Edwards

Violet Edwards, a 96-year-old Jamaican woman, graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Mercy College in New York in 2023, even while battling cancer. 

Born in Jamaica in 1925, Edwards was the first person in her village to attend high school on a full scholarship and passed her graduation exams during World War II.

She was honoured by the Jamaican Consulate General for her academic achievement. 

“Please join me in congratulating 96-year-old Jamaican Violet Edwards who just got her Associate Degree,” tweeted Oliver Mair, the Consul General at the Consulate of Jamaica in Miami.

Marie Fowler (83) 

Marie Fowler earned her doctorate from Howard University at the age of 83. 

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from Maple Springs Baptist Bible College and Seminary, she felt called by God to pursue a doctoral degree in divinity. 

Fowler now aims to teach and inspire others, saying, “It is never too late. If I can do it, why not you?”

Mae Beale (82)

Mae Beale graduated from the University of Maryland Global Campus with a degree in Business Management at age 82. 

She has worked as a licensed practical nurse and discovered her event planning skills while at the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. 

Beale decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree to grow her business, making the Dean’s list several times and engaging in extra-curricular activities. 

She graduated with honors just after her 82nd birthday. “I discovered that I had to be intentional about it and make it my priority,” she said.

Donzella Washington (80)

Donzella Washington, from Alabama, graduated from Alabama A&M University with a 3.69 GPA in social work at 80. 

She dedicated her achievement to her late husband, who always supported her. Overcoming a stutter in her 30s after taking speech classes, she managed her thoughts with patience and confidence, eventually entering college later in life. 

Washington plans to pursue a master’s degree, continuing her academic journey.

These remarkable women are a testament to the fact that it is never too late to achieve your dreams. 

Their stories inspire us all to aim higher and break the barriers that society has set.


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