88-year-old Georgia man graduates from college

'I wanted that degree'
Photo by Donna Flournoy
Photo by Donna Flournoy

In a story recently published by ABC we learned that Horace Sheffield of Barnesville, Georgia, completed a lifelong goal on Friday: to graduate college.

The 88-year-old, along with his tutor Amanda Brannock, walked across the stage to accept his diploma at Shorter University.

“He’s smart as a whip, I’m not even lying,” Sheffield’s granddaughter, Jill Brazier, told ABC News.

Sheffield went to Shorter University from 1960 to 1965, but he quit before graduating to help educate his daughters.

“I dropped out with 115 hours,” he recalled. “At that time a piece of paper on a wall didn’t mean that much to me. I had my education and my brain and my heart, and I put them all to good use. But 60 years later I wanted that degree.”

The determined senior earned his Bachelor of Science in Christian studies through online courses after reading an article in a magazine that seniors could attend college for free.

“I’m retired and living on fixed income, and I did not think I could go to college and pay tuition,” said Sheffield. “But when I saw this article that senior citizens could go to college for free, Shorter accepted me at no tuition. I paid a $200 graduation fee and that’s all I paid. I walked with a walker.”

He credits Brannock, who “walked beside me to make sure I didn’t trip over wires or something,” for being the only reason he was able pull off this accomplishment.

“She wrote out my assignments and told me what to do and she expected me to do it,” he said. “She expected me to make straight As and I did it. I wrote two papers a week and then had the test. I wrote it in long-hand and she typed it all up and put it into the computer. Without her I would not have this diploma today.”

Sheffield said he’s “real excited” to finally have graduated.

“A man 88 years old don’t have an opportunity to walk across the stage many times in life,” he said with a laugh.

A local photographer, Donna Flournoy, came across Sheffield’s story on Facebook and offered to give the graduate a free photo shoot in his cap and gown.

“These are pictures we will cherish forever,” said Brazier. “This is a huge accomplishment for him. And something he wanted so bad. And for him to do it with all his family there was amazing. He walked across the stage and the crowd went crazy. It was in their gymnasium and as soon as they called his name everybody erupted and people were screaming and hollering. We were all in tears because we knew this was what he wanted.”