105-year-old woman graduates from Stanford University 83 years after leaving campus: 'Amazing'

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A 105-year-old woman who started at Stanford University in 1936 recently returned to campus after an 83-year absence to receive her graduate degree — and she’s been inspiring people ever since.

Virginia Hislop graduated from the Palo Alto, California, university a few weeks ago with a master’s degree in education, Stanford’s news website said.

Daniel Schwartz, dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, shared the details with Fox News Digital in a telephone interview.


“I realized I [didn’t] have to worry about giving a graduation speech,” Schwartz told Fox News Digital about the experience. He said he would just “introduce Virginia – or ‘Ginger’ – and that’ll be enough to set the mood.”

Hislop first enrolled at Stanford as an undergraduate student in 1936, according to Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. After earning her bachelor’s degree in education in 1940, Hislop remained at Stanford to pursue a graduate degree while teaching, the university said on its news website.

But then love and war intervened.

Dreams dashed by World War II

By 1941, Hislop had completed her coursework and was preparing to turn in her final thesis when the man who would become her husband was called to serve during World War II, Stanford’s news website reported. 

So she put her educational plans on pause to get married and left campus before graduating.

She moved around the country for several years as an Army wife, then eventually settled with her husband and two children in Yakima, Washington. 

“I thought it was one of the things I could pick up along the way if I needed it and I always enjoyed studying, so that wasn’t really a great concern to me – and getting married was,” she told Stanford’s news website.

After several years of moving around the country as an Army wife, Hislop eventually settled with her husband and two children in Yakima, Washington, after the war, she told the Yakima Herald-Republic in 2018.

“I didn’t return to teaching, but I feel I put my teaching certificate to good use serving [on] committees and on boards and trying to improve the educational opportunities every chance I got,” she told the newspaper.

Thus began an educational career spanning more than 80 years at municipal, county and state levels in Washington, Stanford’s news website reported.

When her daughter Anne was preparing for high school, Hislop was “not pleased” that a home economics course was being suggested for her daughter instead of advanced English, she told the Yakima Herald-Republic — so she sought a seat on the local school board. Hislop won.

Hislop went on to serve as a founding board member for what was then known as Yakima Valley Community College.

“I felt that she could learn to cook at home, and it was more important that she learn more academic skills at school,” Hislop told Stanford.

Hislop went on to serve as a founding board member for what was then known as Yakima Valley Community College. She helped to raise money for what would become Heritage University in nearby Toppenish, Washington, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

Hislop even helped establish a scholarship at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in 2017, the Washington institution said on its website. It is named the Virginia Hislop Emergency Fund.

‘Waited a long time for this’

During the recent graduation ceremony, Schwartz spoke of Hislop as a “fierce advocate for equality” and said he was “proud to confer the Master of Arts in education to our 105-year-old graduate.”

Schwartz told Fox News Digital that Hislop’s participation in the graduation ceremony might not have happened were it not for Hislop’s son-in-law, who asked if Schwartz would bestow her with an honorary degree.

When Schwartz found Hislop’s original transcripts from 1941, he realized she wouldn’t need an honorary degree.

“We mapped her courses from back in the day to current courses, and it satisfied the current requirements for a master’s degree,” he told Fox News Digital.

Schwartz said Hislop’s son-in-law was “elated.”

Even at age 105, Hislop was “strong and sharp,” Schwartz said, as she walked across the graduation stage to receive her degree.

“If I had not seen the transcripts, I would have thought this was a hoax,” Schwartz said. “She is moving around and talking like someone 25 years younger.”

The moment was one that Hislop, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren likely won’t soon forget.

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” she said at the graduation ceremony.

Since her graduation, people online have been sharing their admiration for her achievements in various forums.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle

“Sharp mind even at her age,” one person wrote.

Another said, “Awww. She’s still so astute. I don’t know why this made me cry. Amazing.” 

Still another wrote, “Congratulations to her and may God bless her [for] many more years to come!”

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