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UC Grad Says You're Never Too Old to Pursue a Dream

Date: June 3, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Dottie Stover
Archive: Profiles

University College graduate Emma Simpson has a word of advice for anyone who feels college passed them by and they're too old to give it a try: "It's not about age, it's how you feel about yourself, and I feel good about me." The 78-year-old Simpson, a resident of Hillcrest Elderly Apartments, is graduating with an associate's degree in general education.

Emma says her daughter Theresa got her thinking about the idea of going to college. She made the dean's list her first quarter at UC. Emma Simpson

"It was God's motivation that had Theresa touch base with me," she says. "We both had the same thing in mind for ourselves, which was going school, and I thought, I can't just baby-sit these four walls.

"Then Theresa found a job instead of going to college, and I told her I was worried about going alone -- I wouldn't know one building from the other. She said I wouldn't have a problem. She said, 'Just ask people, where is Sanders, where is French or where is Laurence?' I had no problem getting around, and it was a one-time experience I'll never forget."

"She's been a real delight to have in class," says University College Assistant Professor Freddie Sandipher, General Studies program coordinator. "I can't quite characterize her tenacity and commitment -- it goes beyond what I've seen in many young people.

"Even with eye surgery she had last year, I never saw her miss one or two days of class," says Sandipher.

Emma moved to Cincinnati from Addyston, Ohio when she was 30 years old. A widow and mother of seven, she says she lost two of her children to diabetes. "You know what? The Lord got me through it."

Now, the former domestic and retirement home worker hopes her college achievement will be an inspiration for others. "I've been the oldest student in my classes. It's nothing about age. It's about the individual and how they feel, and about exploring and seeing what life is like somewhere else."

"I'm not sure how much of an example Emma was to the younger students because I'm not sure they realize the sacrifices she made or the deeply held commitment she had," says Sandipher, "but perhaps in the future they'll understand the commitment she had to her education.

"Another joy of having Emma in class is the experience she brings," Sandipher continues. "Her perspective is different. Her life experience is not only beyond her fellow students, but also beyond my own. It gives all of us something to reach for."

Emma adds there's more for her to learn, and she's looking forward to it. "I'd like to get some computer skills under my belt."

Click here to read about other UC graduates.

To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.

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