Magazine article The New American

Grandmother Graduates at Age 90

Magazine article The New American

Grandmother Graduates at Age 90

Article excerpt

On May 25, high school drop-out Uceba Babson of West Palm Beach, Florida, received her high school equivalency diploma after completing course work in the General Education Development program at her school district's Adult Education Center. The achievement would be unremarkable were it not the culmination of a 73-year journey for the graduate, who celebrated her 90th birthday late last year.

Babson was born Uceba Jones on December 13, 1913, in Boynton Beach. Three years later, she and her family moved to her father's 20-acre vegetable farm in Pahokee. Her formal education began in a one-room schoolhouse more than a mile from the Jones home, and she recalls trudging through swampy land and flooded plains to attend grade school.

She dropped out of high school in the 11th grade to marry a young farmer she had met at church, postponing her studies indefinitely while focusing on raising her family. That family grew to include three children, five stepchildren, and (currently) 81 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She has outlived all three of her husbands. In addition to her homemaking duties, Babson worked as a bookkeeper, earned a real estate license, and served as president of her local chapter of the Business and Professional Women's Club.

At age 87, Babson rode a giant roller coaster with her grandchildren, and the next year decided it was time to return to school and achieve her goal of completing her high school education. Her inspiration derived, in part, from a book given to her by a family member about a man who had started school in his 90s. "I thought, 'If he can do it, there's no reason why I shouldn't,'" she told the Associated Press the day after receiving her diploma. "It gave me a purpose and I said, 'If it takes me five years, I'm going to do it.'"

Actually, it took Babson less than three years (including perfect attendance during an 11-month stretch) to complete her class assignments. …

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