The beautiful stories of 87-year-old college student, Rose and Nola who studied into her late nineties encourage us to never stop living the life that God has called us to. These two women show us that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.
Dan Clark captures Rose’s story in Chicken Soup For The Soul:
Rose – Never Too Old To Live Your Dream
The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned round to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m 87-years-old. Can I give you a hug?”
I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze. “Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked. She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”No seriously,” I asked. I was curious about what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. “I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.
After class, we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students.
She was living it up. At the end of the semester, we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”
As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.”
We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it! There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are 19-years-old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn 20 years old. If I am 87 years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn 88.
Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets. “She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.
At the year’s end, Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over 2000 college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.
Nola – The world’s oldest college graduate
Similarly to this story, a Kansas woman Nola Ochs also graduated college at the age of 95. A proof that age doesn’t really matter when it comes to living our dream.
Nola earned a general studies degree from Fort Hays State University in 2007. She then earned her master’s degree in liberal studies in 2010 at the age of 98. Nola was recognized as the oldest college graduate in the world by Guinness World Records.
No matter how old or young are you, you can still pursue the calling God has given you. Life is not about our age but it’s about how we live every single day of our lives. Live every single day of your life for the glory of God.