79-year-old Angerline Day realizes lifelong dream of earning college degree

Not only did Angerline Day earn her college degree on Monday, but the 79-year-old completed all of her coursework online.

Not only did Angerline Day earn her college degree on Monday, but the 79-year-old completed all of her coursework online.

Angerline Day is a mother and a grandmother, and now at age 79, she can add yet another title – a college graduate.

Day crossed the stage at the Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts at the Troy University Montgomery Campus on Monday night with some 125 other graduates, receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology, along with a hug and words of congratulations from TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr.

For Day, it was the moment of a lifetime.

Day said she chose the psychology degree field because of her interest in people and how they think and behave.

“I never thought I would see this day, and it is wonderful for me,” Day said. “It was always something that I wanted to do. However, I made different decisions that took me elsewhere out in the world. I’ve done everything in life but do me.”

While earning a college degree at 79 is impressive enough, Day took it a step further – she completed all her coursework as an online student. It was a remarkable feat given that she had very little computer experience until about four years ago.

“I was very intimidated,” she said. “I didn’t have a life at all. I was tunnel-focused on it. That was all I did. I would forget to eat, forget to cook because that was all I did. I would go back to the computer until pure exhaustion put me to bed, and then I would get up, do a little something and get back on it. Three and a half years, here I am.”

Day admitted there were times when she struggled and even thought about ending the pursuit of her degree.

“After I read my assignments and saw what I needed to do on the computer, I went ‘Oh Lord, I cannot do this.’ I promptly emailed my professor and told them I was just going to leave it. I was contacted by my psychology professor, and I just decided to get up, get a little strength in my backbone and just go for it,” she said. “There is no such thing as quitting.”

Day said earning the bachelor’s degree has given her a sense of pride and fulfillment.

“I have gained self-fulfillment because this is something that I’ve always wanted,” she said. “I feel more complete. I was not whole because I always wanted a thing that was not obtainable to me. It feels wonderful to finally be able to do something for me that I love.”

But, why a degree in psychology? Day is quick to answer.

“I’m interested in people – what they think, why they think, how they behave, why they behave the way they do,” she said. “The different personalities were always very amazing to me, and I just wanted to know more about the intricate workings of people.”

Day’s son Thomas knew this was a “bucket-list item” for his mother, and he already sees the impact this accomplishment has made on her.

“I’m just looking at my mom and seeing the change in her over the past three to four years from when she started,” he said. “Looking at her now, she is just so sharp. It is just so amazing. I always knew she had it in her. We were the pushers. My brother and I helped get her back into school. When it gets hard, we motivate each other, and iron sharpens iron. It has been great to witness.”

Looking at his mother, Thomas expressed his pride. “You got it; you achieved this lifelong goal and that’s remarkable,” he told her following Monday night’s ceremony.

Day just shrugs at the suggestion that she is an inspiration, but she does have a message for others who may be chasing a lifelong dream like a college degree.

“Never give up on your dream. I don’t care what’s going on in your world – if you can’t do it now, do it later. Do it now because it will be well worth it. It is very, very fulfilling,” she said. “I feel better about myself. I’m fulfilled. I’ve accomplished more, and it is really a great feeling. I have learned more and the one thing about knowledge, it does build upon itself. That can be very, very exciting, especially for those who are my age who thought they had already lived their best lives. There is so much more ahead.”