BY Ama Nunoo, 4:14pm May 06, 2021,

‘I almost died’ – 70-yr-old man earns PhD from Howard University

Joseph Grant did himself, family and school proud finishing his PhD at 70. Photo: Twitter

After facing many challenges including a near-death experience, a 70-year-old man has successfully defended his dissertation and is now ready to impart knowledge to his students. Joseph M. Grant will join the graduating class of 2021, having earned his Ph.D. in political science from Howard University.

Grant began pursuing his doctorate in 2015 at the age of 65, which speaks to the fact that it is never too late to chase one’s dream.

He was bent on pursuing his Ph.D. at an HBCU, which he did. It was a dream come true for him to relocate to Washington DC from South Carolina to make that possible.

“I always wanted to go to Howard, literally all my life. This is my first HBCU experience. When I graduated high school, there was a big move to integrate, and because they needed Black students and I needed the money, it was an easy decision to go to those schools. I was determined [as I got older] that when my children were in college, they would go to an HBCU,” reports.

At Howard, Grant majored in political science with an emphasis on American government and Black politics.

Many wondered why a 65-year-old who began his career working in politics and government as an association executive and lobbyist wanted to do extensive research in political science. Grant said he wanted to know more about how Black people and Black culture engaged with the political processes, a report said.

With the support of a robust team at his faculty, Grant began his research full of vigor and life only to be stopped in his tracks by a near-death experience for close to two years. He suffered a subdural hematoma which almost made it impossible for him to continue his research.

But giving up was not an option for Grant. Aside from the constant support from his family, his other motivation was in the support his school was giving him and the investment they had made in him.

“My surgery altered my course of study and seriously threatened my ability to complete my program. I almost died.” Grant said. “It took a lot of effort, support, patience, and understanding from the Department of Political Science and the Howard University Graduate School.”

After his surgery, he had to learn how to do almost everything again. “I had to learn to hold a knife and fork, and I had major confusion and memory loss. I could not comprehend what I read nor understand its importance to what I was trying to do.”

Howard sponsored his research and now Grant is set to graduate. He is determined to let his two-year-old grandson attend an HBCU, precisely, Howard.

“I’m lobbying real hard for him to attend my HBCU. I’ve decided that when I put my dissertation in a bind, I”m going to give it to him, Mason, with my autograph. I want him to know that his grandfather did it and that I completed my program at 70 after facing many challenges. I want him to be really motivated to come to Howard when it’s his time,” said Grant.

Grant’s story has inspired many on the internet after his son celebrated him on Twitter. The Chair of the Department of Political Science, Ravi Perry, Ph.D., was also in awe of Grant’s accomplishments and his work at Howard.

“Grant’s determination, his research acumen, and the efficiency with which he successfully matriculated through our rigorous graduate studies is a shining light for all of us to never ever give up on one’s dreams. Learning from the lifelong experiences of students like Dr. Grant enriches the teaching profession. The classroom is truly a community of co-learners,” Perry said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 6, 2021


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