She finally earned her Stanford master’s degree at age 105: ‘I’ve waited a long time for this’

July 2, 2024

Stanford University’s 2024 graduation ceremony featured a 105-year-old student completing a master’s degree in education—83 years after she started her coursework, reports the Good News Network.

Eight decades ago her diploma was put on hold, in favor of the bounties of a husband and children, but Virginia Hislop finally earned the chance to don a cap and gown and grab that parchment, to the applause of her peers.

While attending Stanford in 1940, Hislop needed to write a master’s thesis in order to achieve a master’s degree—a significant challenge during the best of times. Alas, in the middle of the school year, the United States entered the Second World War.

Her fiance, George, was called to serve in the military, so they quickly married and she join the homefront war effort. After the fighting was finished, Hislop began a long career of educational work, putting the teaching certificate she obtained via her bachelor’s degree in education to use, by serving on various school boards.

She described her career in a nutshell as trying to improve education opportunities for the largest number of people possible.

Decades went by, and Hislop eventually learned that the master’s thesis requirement had been removed—there was almost nothing stopping her from visiting a campus and picking up where she left off. Eighty-three years later, in June, she finally did just that, with her grandkids and great-grandkids looking on.

“For a lot of people the degree is a badge of accomplishment, and it was great to be able to celebrate someone who cared so much about learning, and dedicated her lifetime to other people’s learning,said Stanford Dean Daniel Schwartz on the occasion of the 105-year-old’s graduation.

Her son-in-law described her as a woman under whose feet “moss doesn’t grow” owing to her active lifestyle of volunteering, voracious reading, and walking around her garden.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork