An 89-year-old woman who is also a new college graduate isn’t stopping there – she’s already working towards a bachelor’s degree.
Ella Washington has accomplished a lot in her life. The 89-year-old woman born in rural North Carolina raised 12 children while working a full-time job. She put her kids through school, but had to put her own education on the back burner.
Ella Washington, who graduated Saturday with an associate degree in interdisciplinary studies, is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history at Liberty University in Virginia, according to the college.
Washington enrolled in Liberty’s online program in 2012, following a suggestion from one of her 12 children.
“She has always been a lifelong learner,” Washington’s daughter, Ellen Mitchell, said in a statement. “Her desire for learning and for pursuing an education became a family tradition. She taught all of her children how to read, write, and do math prior to their beginning school, just as her grandmother taught her and her siblings.”
As for her drive to learn more about history, Washington said “everybody should know their history and learn more about it … There’s nothing wrong with learning more.”
During her 89 years on earth, Washington has worked a variety of jobs to support her children, ranging from a custodian at the Pentagon to an office assistant to a certified nursing assistant at an adult daycare. She only stopped working about six years ago, according to a press release.
“Coming to D.C., there weren’t many opportunities for a poorly educated black woman,” Mitchell said. “But she worked hard doing whatever she could to make sure we were taken care of.”
The oldest graduate in Liberty’s Class of 2018 had this to say about her drive to learn: “Education will help you make the best life for yourselves and those who come after you.”