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‘Never Know What Life Will Present’: Retired Nurse Earns Bachelor’s Degree at 82 Years Old

A retired Maryland nurse with a storied career waited a long time to accomplish her latest goal.

Mae Beale received her bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Maryland just one day after her 82nd birthday.

Beale said she felt energized after walking the stage and receiving her degree with honors on May 18.

Mae Beale received her bachelor’s degree on May 18 at the University of Maryland Global Campus at 82 years old. (Photo: YouTube Screenshot/NBC News)

“I feel excited. I feel accomplished, and I just feel that I’ve followed my dream,” Beale said. “One of my mantras is it’s never too late to follow your dream.”

Beale spent several years as a licensed practical nurse in Washington D.C. She cared for patients at the Children’s National Hospital, the National Naval Center (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) and the Washington DC VA Medical Center Hospital.

She later joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, where she was known for coordinating events. It motivated her to launch her own event planning business, In Grand Style.

“My supervisors thought I had something special,” said Beale. “When I was working at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, I organized some large events and everybody was impressed with it, so I started coordinating their IT information conferences.”

A driven Beale enrolled in Howard Community College to pursue an associate’s degree in business management in 1994, at 54 years old. She then decided to tackle her bachelor’s degree, one class at a time.

“I wanted to make certain I had the time to devote to whichever class I was taking,” she said. “I was like the tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.

Mae Beale received her bachelor’s degree on May 18 at the University of Maryland Global Campus at 82 years old. (Photo: Twitter/Dylan Goldberg)

“I discovered that I had to be intentional about it and make it my priority,” she added.

Beale is also an active member of her community. She sits on several local boards and has spent 40 years as an activist and community volunteer. Beale also served on the student advisory council while at the University of Maryland. She now plans to use her degree to grow her business and boost her self-confidence.

“I knew that if I had the degree, it would solidify things and make me feel more comfortable,” she said.

Beale’s advice to others considering pursuing higher education is: “Do what makes your heart sing. Expose yourself to as many possibilities as you can because you never know what life will present.”

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