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BY Francis Akhalbey, 9:00am May 11, 2022,

South Carolina man earns master’s degree at the age of 71

Leroy Harley, 71, earned a master's degree at the age of 71 -- Photo via WLTX

A 71-year-old man on Saturday graduated from the University of South Carolina with a master’s degree in teaching. According to 11Alive, Leroy Harley, a Bowman resident, decided to take a new career path in education at the age of 69. And he did not look back.

In an interview with the news outlet, the 71-year-old said he was proud of himself and had finally found a career he felt he was passionate about. That was after exploring other career paths.

“Anything that was new and interesting, I became interested in it,” said Harley.

The septuagenarian decided to venture into education after his mother advised him to explore the possibility of working at a school. So he sent an application to the Bethune-Bowman Elementary School where he was initially hired as a teacher’s aide.

“I immediately got interested in teaching. Like I say, if it’s something new, I am going to try it and see where it takes me,” Harley said.

He subsequently enrolled in college to study teaching. “I thought, ‘Why am I going back to school at this age? I should be sorta coasting into retirement,” he recalled. “But I went on and did it anyhow.”

And though pursuing the teaching degree did not come easy, Harley said he was eventually able to pull through with the support of his family. “I am elated at the fact that Lee, after all these years, decided to follow his heart,” Harley’s sister told 11Alive. “He has. Education has always been a strong part of his life.”

Asked if he has anything to say to anyone contemplating a career change, Harley said, “I say go ahead and do it, I mean, because … you bring a lot to the table, OK?”

“There’s a lot you have to learn at the table but you bring a lot to the table,” he added. And though Harley is yet to decide on when he’ll retire, he said his plan is to teach for a couple of years.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 12, 2022


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