At 92 years young, a South Carolina woman just earned her fourth college degree and has no plans of slowing down.
Annie Dillard received her diploma from Midlands Technical College in Columbia on Wednesday where she was cheered on by family and friends who came to celebrate her latest accomplishment, local station WLTX reported. Dillard arrived at least an hour before the ceremony to practice her pose as she crossed the stage.
“They told me to get here at 5:30, but they told me to be here on time, so I got here at 4 o’clock,” Dillard said. “It feels wonderful.”
The seasoned scholar owns her own hair salon but said she yearned for something more. So, she decided to go back to school and enrolled in a liberal arts program. She said the constant learning helps keep her mind sharp.
“No matter how old — or “seasoned” you are — if you dream it, you can do it,” Dillard said, adding that she hopes her perseverance inspires others. “…[The youngsters] say they have great inspiration and they say they’re gonna tell mom and get mom to start school.”
Dillard was the first to cross the stage at Wednesday’s ceremony, taking home an Associate’s degree in Liberal Art. Her degree was just one among the more than 2,200 diplomas and certificates awarded by Midlands Tech this year, according to WLTX.
Dillard doesn’t have much time to revel in her latest feat, however, as she’s starting school to pursue another degree in early childhood education in two weeks.
“I’ve known Mrs. Dillard for a number of years, almost since she’s started at the college and I’ve been really, really pleased with her progress,” Ronald Rhames, President of Midlands Technical College, said of the recent graduate. “She would be on campus always smiling, always willing to talk with people.”
“If I’m a 15, 16, 17, 18, 19-year-old student at our college and see a lady as mature as Mrs. Dillard, then I have to be encouraged to see what’s gonna happen with me,” Rhames added.
For those looking to return to school or are enrolling in college for the first time, Dillard offered these wise words of advice: “You can make it if you try, but you have to start somewhere … Only the strong survive.”