- Janet Fein, 84, is set to graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas with a sociology degree on Wednesday.
- When the octogenarian retired in 2012, she decided to go back to school because she didn’t like typical retiree activities like bingo.
- “With each class I already knew a lot, but then I also learned a lot. And that made me happy,” she said.
Proving that age is just a number, an 84-year-old woman is set to graduate this week from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor’s degree.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Janet Fein said that when she retired from her secretarial job in 2012, she decided to go back to college and get her bachelor’s degree because “I didn’t think that playing bingo was up to my speed.”
She decided to major in sociology because she found the topic “substantial,” and enjoyed reading and writing papers on the topic.
“With each class I already knew a lot, but then I also learned a lot. And that made me happy,” she said.
Fein took advantage of a special program in Texas, which allows residents ages 65 and older to take up to six credit hours for free at public universities.
According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2,000 people took part in the program last year.
Fein grew up in the Bronx borough of New York City, and says when she was in high school, she couldn’t wait to get out and start a job. She graduated early, at the age of 16, and started working as a secretary for a dress manufacturer.
She married at the age of 18 and went on to raise five children. Over the decades she worked several other jobs, but her most recent position was a 20-year stint as a secretary at a Dallas orthopaedic hospital. She retired at the age of 77.
In 1995, Fein got her associate’s degree, but getting her bachelor’s degree was always a dream of hers.
She continued to go to classes at UT Dallas even as she transitioned from living alone to living in a senior living facility. When she started having trouble with her knees, she did a semester of independent study and took online classes in order to graduate.
“She did not give up in the midst of her challenges … she just kept plugging along,” said Fein’s college adviser, Sheila Rollerson.
Not only did she learn, but she made friends along the way, as well. Fein and Tracy Glass, 40, struck up a friendship when they sat next to each other at the front of the class.
Carol Cirulli Lanham, a senior lecturer in sociology, said Fein offered a unique perspective for her class.
“She would speak up a lot in class and I think that it just made for a more interesting class … because she literally remembered some of the times we were talking about,” Lanham said.
She’s even inspired one of her caregivers, Renee Brown, to go back to school to become a licensed vocational nurse.
“She said, ‘Renee, you can do it. If I can do it you can do it and you will feel so good about it,'” Brown said.
- Read more:
- Morgan Freeman shares his approach to ‘discipline’ that keeps him working at age 80
- I interviewed a bunch of 90-somethings about what they regret most and their answers surprised me
- ‘It’s thanks to my patience’: The world’s oldest living married couple share their secret to 80 years of marriage
- The age you’ll be happiest in life is later than you think
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