84-Year-Old Woman Graduates College With a Diploma 67 Years in the Making

Betty Sandison, Pictured with Her Family at Graduation

Graduations are accomplishments worth celebrating, whether they've taken four years, or eight, or even more to get to. Being handed that diploma is always an exciting moment, but imagine how much more exciting it would be if you had being dreaming of it for 67 years.

Betty Sandison began studying at the University of Minnesota (aka U of M) nearly seven decades ago. In 1955, she left Renville, a small farm town in central Minnesota, as the first person in her family to go to college. Initially, she attended the school for her nursing license, a program which took a year to complete. She then continued taking college courses until she met her husband, at which time she was about 25 credits short of a degree. Following her husband's career moves kept her from finishing her degree, and for the next few decades, she focused on her nursing career and raising their two daughters. Still, a university diploma remained in the back of her mind, and, when she retired from nursing in 2013, she decided to pick up where she left off.

“I was out to lunch with friends, and we were talking about bucket lists and things we wanted to do,” she says. “I said I've always wanted to graduate from the U.” Shortly after that lunch, she enrolled in classes at the university. A lot had changed at the U of M since Sandison was last a student. Not only was the campus much larger, but, for Sandison, getting up to speed with the role technology now plays in education was quite the learning curve. “That computer business almost did me in,” she admits. “I spent a lot of time at IT.”

The pandemic threw another wrench in her plans—when classes went virtual in spring 2020, Sandison had to step back and hope the return to in-person classes happened sooner, rather than later. “I had to drop both classes that I tried to take online, I couldn't do it,” she explains. But, now so close to her accomplishing her goal, she started again last fall, and finally completed her degree this spring. Sandison graduated on May 7, 2022, at age 84, with a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. What is she feeling in the face of this inspiring achievement? “Just pure joy, pure joy,” she says proudly in a video interview with CBS. “Pure satisfaction that I had attained my goal of walking across Northrup.”

In the video, you can hear her family cheer her on as she walks across the stage to accept her diploma. Despite the learning curves and the unexpected challenges, Sandison knew what she wanted, and kept at it until she finished what she set out to do. “You need to do what you want to do or what your goals are,” she says. “Don't let anybody stop you.”

Retired nurse Betty Sandison graduated from the University of Minnesota at the age of 84, with a diploma that was 67 years in the making.

Betty Sandison Graduating from the University of Minnesota

Betty was accepted into the university in 1955, where she completed a year-long program to earn her nursing license. Still, she never gave up on her goal to graduate with a degree.

Betty Sandison as a Nursing Student in the 1950s

Sandison, second from right, as a nursing student at the University of Minnesota in the 1950s.

Watch the video below to hear more from Sandison about her story.

h/t: [WCCO – CBS Minnesota]

All images via University of Minnesota.

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