A 101-year-old resident of Virginia, Sarah Simpkins, is set to graduate from college alongside her granddaughter. Having dropped out of school 81 years ago due to pregnancy, Simpkins took the challenge to realize her dream and has now completed her first semester of Brightpoint Community College’s early childhood education program.
She achieved a 3.5 grade point average. Explaining her rationale for taking the bold step, Simpkins pointed out that returning to school was always on her mind, and she hopes her journey will inspire others.
The Virginia resident left Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, at the age of 20 when she became pregnant with her first child. Despite getting married and dedicating most of her life to raising 12 children, Simpkins held onto the dream of earning her college degree, as reported by WWBT.
When she was 96 years old, she relocated from Brooklyn, New York, to Virginia to reside with her granddaughter, Halimah Shepherd-Crawford. Her granddaughter is currently enrolled at the same community college, situated in Chester.
“I study the assignment, explain it to her, and then she gives me her answers,” Shepherd-Crawford said.
“I’m her hands and eyes, but it’s her brain. She’s still super sharp,” the granddaughter added.
The grandmother and granddaughter are set to receive their diploma in May of next year, with Simpkins being an inspiring 102-year-old at the time. Despite her age, Simpkins said she feels like a 42-year-old.
Under Virginia’s Higher Education Act of 1974, seniors aged 60 and above, including Simpkins, have the opportunity to enroll in higher education courses for credit or audit classes without incurring tuition or fees.
Simpkins, who is pursuing her education at Brightpoint Community College is “enjoying every step of it”, she said. Simpkins, who was a semi-profession bowler, explained that the classes she finds interesting are in-person art classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“When I go to do the homework, that’s easy. A piece of cake,” she added.
The centenarian attributed her longevity to a philosophy of staying happy and joyful in the moment, expressing a lighthearted approach to life. Her granddaughter, Shepherd-Crawford, said her grandmother has been a lifelong inspiration to her.
“It’s special because we both will finish together, and we’ll both walk across the stage together. It made us work harder. And that was our motivation. We’re gonna do this together. We’re gonna finish together.”