BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
A retired grandmother completes her undergraduate degree at the age of 80 and now has plans to pursue a Master’s.
Suzanne Stricker, of Dallas, Texas, USA, started attending the University of Texas at Dallas 12 years ago and realized earlier this year that she would have enough credits for a Bachelor’s degree by the spring.
Formerly working for a non-profit, the New Zealand native thought she would take advantage of the school’s free tuition for senior citizens and enrolled on a part-time basis.
A lover of music who played the piano as a child, Suzanne declared herself as a Visual and Performing Arts major and took a music class every chance she had.
She enjoyed learning much more about music than she ever knew and even participated in the university’s theatre productions.
When the grandma first signed up for classes in 2006, she never imagined walking across the stage with thousands of students about 60 years her junior, she was simply trying to occupy her time.
But while signing up for spring semester classes, she learned that taking one to two courses a semester combined with the credits she earned while attending junior college in her 40’s, qualified her to do so.
Suzanne said: “I thought I would try it out after I retired. Even though I didn’t have to work anymore, I wanted to be working towards some type of goal.
“I think everyone should have goals, no matter how old you are.
“I realized just six months ago that I only needed to do one more semester in order to get a degree. I never imagined this happening.
“It’s very exciting. People have been stopping and congratulating me all around campus. I’m the only person with white hair walking around, so it’s not difficult to spot me.
“I really enjoyed taking the music classes and taking part in some of the plays. I was able to learn so much.
“It’s really nice to be around younger folks and seeing what their lives are like.”
While she enjoyed learning, Suzanne did not have the easiest time adjusting to being in school again.
Throughout the 12 years, she had to spend a lot more time than most studying her classes, which she believes is due to her age.
She said: “I had to devote a lot of time to some assignments. I don’t think I watched any television when I was taking classes. I just don’t have the time.”
“It was amazing seeing the younger students’ time management skills. They were so busy with everything, while I didn’t have anything else to do.”
Fascinated by how much she learned, Suzanne is eager to further her education even more.
The retiree will now focus on applying to the graduate program in Visual and Performing Arts.
She said: “I definitely want to get my Master’s. I would love to continue learning.”