Meet The 95-Year-Old Graduate

For most college seniors, the schedule would seem ordinary, trying to strike a balance between studying and socializing.

But, as The Early Show correspondent Jeff Glor reports, there is nothing ordinary about what Nola Ochs is about to accomplish. Saturday she'll become the oldest person ever to receive a bachelor's degree.

Everybody is impressed by what Nola's doing at Fort Hays State University — even without her 3.7 GPA. Everybody, it seems, except the 95-year-old herself.

"When I came up here of course I knew I was old, but I didn't pay attention to how old I was," she says.

After raising four sons — who've given her 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren — and after her husband passed away, Nola began picking up college classes to keep herself busy.

When she decided she really wanted a degree, she e-mailed academic adviser Joleen Briggs.

"She said, 'I think I took a class at Fort Hays," Briggs remembers. "Well if you took it, I can get access to it."

Joleen found her transcript. It turns out the first class she took was in 1930.

"I and said 'Nola, are you 92 years old?' " Briggs said. "I remember she e-mailed me back and said, 'I don't know, I don't keep track of my age. I can tell you I was born in 1911.' and I'm thinking, 'Oh my god!' "

After taking online classes for a while, Nola decided it was time to abandon the comforts of home, and move into student housing on campus.

Now, with art as an elective and history as her emphasis, she's close to completing the scholarly journey she began when Herbert Hoover was president.

That 77-year journey ends this weekend, and when Nola steps on stage to get her diploma, she won't even be the only member of the Ochs family graduating. Her 22-year-old granddaughter, Alexandra, will be in a cap and gown as well.

Last year, they even took a class together. Once the graduation parties are over, the younger Ochs hopes to get a job at the university.

"When I was in my interview they said, 'What is going to be your most memorable moment about Fort Hays?' " Alexandra says. "And I started crying, and I said, 'That will happen on Saturday, when I graduate with my grandmother.' "

Nola's become an inspiration for fellow students.

And don't think the school hasn't noticed. Nola, it seems, has become a bit of a celebrity on campus. How many students do you think get a hug from the university president?

"I kind of hate for this to end," Nola says with a laugh. "I can't imagine what it'd be like a month from now."

No matter what the future holds, we're pretty sure Nola Ochs will always stand out.
  • James Klatell

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