90-Year-Old Becomes Oldest Person to Earn Master’s Degree From University

Everyone has a different path through education. While some zip through college right after high school, others find their way back years later. This was the case for Minnie Payne. The South Carolina native returned to the classroom after retiring at age 68, finally earning her much-coveted undergraduate degree when she was 73. Instead of stopping there, Payne continued her higher education path at University of Northern Texas and, at age 90, has become the oldest person to receive a master's degree at the school.

Payne will be accompanied across the stage by her grandson to receive her well-earned diploma. Although much older than the other students, she was deeply inspired to learn something new and reach her goal. “It’s never too late to learn and Minnie Payne is making history,” writes UNT. “As the eldest UNT graduate to complete her coursework, #UNTGreatGrad and Toulouse Graduate School student Minnie Payne’s passion for writing and her positive attitude made college a joy rather than an obligation.”

Before reaching her ultimate goal, Payne worked as a court reporter and a substitute teacher in a textile-mill community in South Carolina. After retiring, she enrolled in college at Texas Woman’s University (TWU). A few years later, the determined septuagenarian graduated with a bachelor’s in General Studies. Now a nonagenarian, the self-described “lifelong learner” has earned a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Payne already has a new job lined up in Houston after she graduates. She will be working at a magazine that is based in the area. “It's not my intention to stop work,” she said. “I always wanted to improve myself. When I retired at age 68, I wasn't doing anything constructive. And it's my philosophy to constantly be doing something constructive.” We wish Payne the best of luck in her new career.

h/t: [WSFA12]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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