Sunday, May 20, 2007

World's Oldest College Graduate

When you're a tutor articles in the news that have to do with education always catch your eye. This past week I stumbled upon a story that made national headlines. The story is about the world's oldest person to receive a college diploma.

Nola Ochs just mounted the stage to receive her bachelor's degree in general studies and history during a May 13th graduation ceremony at Fort Hays State University in Fort Hays, Kansas. What makes the event noteworthy is that Ms. Ochs is 95 years old.

When she was handed her degree by current Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the crowd gave her a standing ovation, breaking a rule against applauding until all the names of all 2,176 graduates were read -- including that of her granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs who graduated with her. Relatives from as far away as California cheered and waved American flags as she walked across the stage.

She told a news conference after the ceremony that she was "just another student". But none of the other graduates will be entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest person receiving a college degree. The former record holder was Mozelle Richardson, who earned a degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2004 at the age of 90.

Ms. Ochs is the matriarch of a family that includes three sons -- a fourth died in 1995 -- along with 13 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. She started taking classes occasionally at Dodge City Community College after the 1972 death of her husband of 39 years, Vernon. After moving to Fort Hays last fall from her farm southwest of Jetmore, she completed the final 30 hours required for her degree.

My hat's off to you Ms. Ochs. I hear you are considering a master's degree. I wish just one of these spoiled brats (hope they don't read this) I teach could show even a fraction of your determination to succeed. I want you to know too, that I'm waiting patiently for an announcement that you're received you Master's. Good Luck!

Photo: Nola Ochs with Gov. Sebelius. Research info provided by AP.

Now, the least I can do is dedicate a poem to you:

Obscure & Rather Iridescent

Masquerading as trees we
step into the night A thick
coat of laurel nobody wants
to steal Recovering from
a fear of decimals in high
places A set of hairy paws
raised in a friendly salute
"Let me snow on your
parade" she suggests More
photos framed in a velveteen
relief Colossal green olives
suitable for martinis One good
squint & you can see the rockies
A glinting mirror in the shape
of a heart An intimacy as
anonymous as generic cereal
Longing for another summer
white sale Pagan drawings
impaled on the edges of
stalagmite At dawn the dream
sequence unravels like yarn

This poem first published at:
Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.
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1 comment:

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