77-year-old veteran earns university degree after dropping out in the 1960s

Timothy Brown graduated from the South Carolina State University at the age of 77 -- Image via CBS News

Vietnam War veteran Timothy Brown dropped out of a California college in the 1960s because of work. But the 77-year-old always had it at the back of his mind to eventually re-enroll. And rightfully so, the septuagenarian recently fulfilled that dream after he graduated from South Carolina State University with a degree in drama.

In an interview with CBS News, Brown said he had initially enrolled at a local school in South Carolina for a semester. But in 2018, he got to know about a program designed for veterans to help them return to college. Through the program, Brown, then 73, gained admission to South Carolina State University where he majored in drama.

“I’m sitting in class with my grandkids. I always told them, ‘Hey, you know, you guys are my grandkids.’ You know, they’re in their early 20s and here I am in my middle 70s,” he recalled. “But it was real good. I mean, I had no problem adjusting. They welcomed me very much, so everything turned out.”

The 77-year-old also said going back to school afforded him the opportunity to experience new things. One of them was acting.

“I think what happened – in fact, I know now what happened – is sometimes you have a talent inside and you don’t even know you have the talent,” Brown said. “I had the talent inside, but I didn’t even realize I had acting talent inside of me.”

Brown’s course required him to take acting as well as playwriting classes. One of his conditions to graduate also included writing a play. For that, the 77-year-old decided to write about a real-life experience where he traveled thousands of miles to attend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last march in 1968, CBS News reported.

“It’s a true story where we actually drove a church bus…from Los Angeles all the way to D.C. for Dr. King’s last march,” Brown recalled. “When he finished his speech that day, he came down off of the podium, and we just happened to be in his path. So, we were able to shake his hand, and I was able to take a snapshot of him and my pastor.”

“So, it was a rewarding trip and experience because we never dreamed we would have this opportunity to shake the man’s hand,” he added.

And though Brown has graduated, he said he hopes his play won’t be shelved as he wants the university to bring it to life through a real production. The septuagenarian also said he’ll like to be a part of the production.

“I do believe in my heart that we need to put this out so that the younger generation, younger folk, can see this and say, ‘Okay, our ancestors, some of those in the front of us actually did a lot to sacrifice so we could have these freedoms and equality that we have,'” Brown said.

“I feel that if they could actually see that, and if we could reach two or three, I think it would be worth it. Just so they can appreciate what we went through so they would have an easier day.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 23, 2022


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