Dec 17, 2020

Grandmother graduates college with granddaughter after 42 years

Graduation day is an exciting and daunting event for anyone who has spent years of their life buckled down and studying. All that hard work and the late nights, culminates in a chance to don the cap and gown and receive that long-awaited degree. 

For 74-year-old Pat Ormond, her graduation day was 42 years in the making, and was shared with her granddaughter, Melody. 

“I always knew that I was going to graduate from college,” Melody Ormond told CNN

“I just never knew that my nana was also going to be there.”

Seventy four-year-old Pat took her first class at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta in 1978, before dropping out to move to Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Over the next 40 years, Pat worked as an accountant and raised her family, taking the occasional college class at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). While her family continued to encourage her to complete her college degree, particularly when she retired, it wasn’t until Melody transferred to UTC that Pat decided to take the plunge. 

Realising that over the years she had obtained enough college credits to graduate alongside her granddaughter, the 74-year-old and her 22-year-old granddaughter began attending classes, occasionally bumping into each other around campus.  

“One of her classes would end at the same time mine would,” Melody said. 

“I would see her and just scream and yell ‘nana!’ until I got her attention.”

However, this year posed a particular challenge with the introduction of online learning. 

“It’s definitely more difficult, and I prefer in-class,” Pat told CNN. 

“I really enjoyed the discussions and being able to interact with so many people from different backgrounds. Not having those people around made it harder.”

But on November 20, Pat and Melody graduated at a socially distanced ceremony with the rest of the 2020 graduating class. The pandemic meant that the ceremony was held without an audience, but the grandmother and granddaughter were able to walk on stage and receive their degrees one after the other. 

“We are so proud to have graduates like Melody Ormond and her grandmother, Pat Ormond, in the UTC class of 2020,” Steven R. Angle, UTC Chancellor, told CNN. 

“Together, they personify the determination, commitment and love of lifelong learning we encourage in every UTC graduate.”

Newly decorated with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, Pat is already embarking on a second degree, a bachelor’s in history, and hopes that her story will inspire others to go after their goals, and realise that time and age are no barriers. 

“Learning never stops,” Pat said. 

“That’s something that my father instilled in me when I was younger. No matter what you do, learning never stops. Even if it’s auditing a few classes, there’s always that option.”

Image Source: Twitter @the_female_lead

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