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105-Year-Old Woman Completes her Master’s Degree

105-Year-Old Woman Completes her Master's Degree

They say age is just a number, and this certainly rings true for Virginia “Ginger” Hislop.

At 105 years old, Hislop received her master’s degree from Stanford University this weekend, 83 years after starting her program at the Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE).

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According to Stanford’s website, Hislop began her studies at the GSE in 1936, aiming to earn a bachelor’s degree in education followed by a master’s. She completed her bachelor’s in 1940, but World War II disrupted her plans.

After finishing her coursework and just before submitting her final thesis, her boyfriend, an ROTC student at GSE, was called to serve. The couple married, and Hislop left Stanford without graduating.

“I thought it was something I could pick up later if needed, and I always enjoyed studying, so it wasn’t a big concern—getting married was,” said Hislop, a resident of Yakima, Washington, who was born in Palo Alto.

After a lifelong career in education, Hislop finally returned to Stanford to complete what she started before WWII.

“A fierce advocate for equity and the opportunity to learn… today we are proud to confer the master of arts in education to our 105-year-old graduate,” said GSE Dean Daniel Schwartz at Sunday’s commencement.

Although retired, Hislop credits her time at Stanford for enabling her to impact students.

“I think I did good things for our local school system and helped broaden it,” she said. “This degree is an appreciation of the many years I’ve put into working for the schools in the Yakima area and on different boards.”

As she rose from her seat in cap and gown to walk across the stage and receive her master’s hood, she was met with applause. Among the crowd were her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“My goodness,” she said. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”