71-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Bucks Trend, Makes Good On Earning College Degree

FORT WORTH, Texas, Aug. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Earlier this year, Savannah Jones, 71,  joined cyberspace classmates from across the country to participate in traditional commencement ceremonies at the Ashford University campus in Clinton, Iowa.

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She donned iconic academic regalia, marched to "Pomp and Circumstance" and received her diploma, earning a bachelor's degree in social science with a specialization in education.

Jones bucked the trend. According to a June 2012 national consumer poll by Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of Ashford University, more than one-third (37 percent) of high school graduates who have not earned  a degree have vowed to go back to school "too many times to count."

"I began my Ashford University academic journey in 2009 after being out of school for 25 or 30 years," Jones said. "The experience was challenging and incredibly rewarding. Through it all, my family was very supportive and encouraging."

Jones, who also celebrates her 50th wedding anniversary this year, has five living children, 19 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, plus two more great-grandchildren on the way. She was inspired by her mother to pursue her higher education aspiration. "Mother dropped out of high school. At age 63, she took home study courses and earned a diploma. I always told myself 'if mother could do it, you can do it.' Mother always knew best."

While Jones and her grandchildren are generations apart, technology and learning creates a bond and brings them closer to one another. "I'm a techie and keep up with the grandkids through texts and Facebook," she said.

Two of  Jones' grandchildren are college students themselves. Raised within a family that values education, one of her grandsons delighted her with textbooks as a gift.

"My grandkids and I have the most wonderful conversations," Jones said. "They ask me where I get these words. I tell them it's because I have a college education and when they have a college education, they'll have a vivid vocabulary too."

Jones took online classes on the road while traveling on behalf of her church. "Online learning was perfect for me; however, regardless of whether it's online or in a traditional university setting, you have to be self-motivated and determined. Otherwise, it's a waste. There were times I would have to tell my husband, 'honey, I'm studying and have to stay focused."

Dr. Alice Vestergaard, professor in the Ashford University College of Health, Human Service, and Science, who specializes in the study of aging, said, "Jones' degree pursuit provided some of the best 'brain candy' imaginable and serves as an example that we are never too old to learn. By pursuing a degree at an older age, she actually grew new neurons – brain cells.  Regular class attendance gave her brain a 'neurobics' workout. This, coupled with the social interaction she received in the online classroom, provided additional opportunity for neuron stimulation and growth. Being exposed to new concepts and ideas, then applying the information in class discussions and assignments actively fired up her brain cells. Learning is considered a brain health-promoting endeavor."

In closing, Jones said, "I love learning and was very excited to travel to the Ashford University campus for graduation. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful life."

About Ashford University
Ashford University is defining the modern college experience by combining the heritage of a traditional campus with the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning. The University provides a vibrant learning community where high-quality programs and leading-edge technology create a dynamic, immersive and stimulating learning experience. Ashford University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association (www.ncahlc.org). The University offers practical and progressive associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs online, as well as bachelor's degree programs at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. Ashford University – where heritage meets innovation. For more information, please visit www.ashford.edu or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.

Contact: Shari Rodriguez, Associate Vice President of Public Relations
858.513.9240 x2513 · [email protected]

SOURCE Ashford University