You would think that after raising five kids and retiring at age 77 from her secretarial job, Janet Fein would want to do nothing other than relax, but that’s not her.
Fein, now 84, went to back to school and this week she will accomplish a long-held goal when she graduates from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor’s degree.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, people 65 and older make up less than one percent of U.S. college students. In 2015, they accounted for about 67,000 of about 20 million college students.
Fein took part in a state program that allows people ages 65 and older to take up to six credit hours for free at public universities in Texas. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, about 2,000 people took advantage of the offer last year.
ABC News reports that Fein said she wanted the degree “with all of my heart,” and kept going to classes even as she transitioned from living on her own and driving herself around to needing a walker and oxygen and eventually moving to a senior living facility. Then her knees gave out, so she did a semester of independent study and took online classes to fulfill her degree requirements.
Fein, who was raised in the Bronx in New York City, said that in high school she just wanted to graduate and get a job. After graduating early at the age of 16, she went to work as a secretary at a dress manufacturer. She married, spent 18 years staying home with her children and worked several jobs over the decades, including a 20-year stint as a secretary at a Dallas orthopedic hospital (the job she retired from in 2012). She also worked on her associate degree for two decades before earning it in 1995.
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