70-Year-Old Lives the College Experience

    11 June, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    Many schools across the U.S. hold graduation ceremonies this time of year. In some schools, even 5 and 6-year-olds observe their graduation from kindergarten. And so can older people, much older. Meet 70-year-old Jerry Reid, he just graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He earned a bachelor's degree.

    Mr. Reid might not look like the average college student, his hair is definitely grayer. But still Jerry Reid's age is easy to forget, other UVA students know him as one of their own.

    70-Year-Old Lives the College Experience
    Jerry Reid, right, is a fixture in the student section at basketball games.

    Mr. Reid sat (1:00) into the "Hoo Crew," a group that cheers loudly for the school at sports events. He also joined a fraternity, a men's group on campus. He sang drinking songs along with many other students. Mr. Reid's school friends say they can talk to him about just about anything.

    About a half century ago, in his 20s, Mr. Reid was not in school. Instead, he was racing cars and chasing girls. But he says his friend Bill invited him to UVA parties.

    "Bill Sturman told me what a screwup I was that there was no way I'd ever make anything out of my life unless I came up here and went to school with him,"said Reid.

    That was in 1963, Jerry Reid says it took him 48 years to take that advice. In 2011, he entered college, his last examination before graduation involved the Civil War General for the Southern, Stonewall Jackson.

    UVA Professor Luke Wright says Mr. Reid influences students. Professor Wright says he opened the minds of the young adults. The teacher says Mr. Reid showed them that life does not end at 40. Instead, the 70-year-old college graduate believes that getting older can be the beginning of a dream.

    "Remember that path that you left waits for you. It's there. It's yours. All you gotta do is get out of your own way and get back to it. And, that's exactly what I did," said Reid.

    Mr. Reid says that he and his wife Susan now would take some time off to enjoy his college degree. Then, he'll return to UVA to begin studying for his graduate degree.

    And that's the Education Report from VOA Learning English. For more education stories, go to our website 51voa.com. You can listen to our reports at our website or download them. You can follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and on our YouTube Channel, all at VOA Learning English. I'm Jerilyn Watson.