Back To The Workforce At 61

According to a survey by the AARP, 70 percent of people over the age of 45 are planning to work during their retirement. One 60-year-old woman is not just planning to work, but she moved 300 miles to go back to school for a new career. The Early Show's Debbye Turner reports for the Life Matters series.

"I've never been a sit-around person. I'm just not that way," says 60 year-old, Wanda Poythress. She moved from Virginia to Nashville to follow a life-long dream, going to beauty school.

Poythress says laughing, "I don't like just doing nothing. I wanna be doing something. And I'm just not ready to be old yet."

She didn't do it all by herself. In fact her inspiration was her granddaughter, Kerri. Once Kerri decided to go, her "mee-maw" Wanda was close behind.

Kerri says, "At first I thought it was a joke. I mean, I didn't think she was serious because I really had never heard her mentioning anything about it before, you know. So then once I talked to her and she kind of explained herself, I could tell in her voice that, you know, she just really wanted to pursue this."

Poythress notes, "My thing was it would be fun. I'd get to be with Kerri. We've just always been - enjoyed being together."

Though she admits with a laugh that even entertaining those thoughts was crazy. Poythress says, "I thought it'll be fun and I won't have to do a lot of work, you know. And then I found out what I had to do to get the degree. And it was a lot of work."

School director Velma Demonbreum says she told Poythress there would be implications for her decision. "I said, 'Wanda, you don't know what you've done when you've opened the doors for all these other people," says Demonbreum. "I was expecting a grandmother to be old and gray-headed. And in walked this hip-hop, you know, little, you know, very trendy grandmother."

Inside however, Poythress says she was scared to death. She says, "I was petrified the first day going to school. And then I saw all the books everybody was carrying around and I thought, 'you're too old for this, woman.'"

But Kerri says with a chuckle, "We were able to support each other and motivate each other. And I'm like, 'If my grandmother can do it, I mean, I sure can do it.'"

So grandmother and granddaughter were enrolled in the aesthetics program, studying all aspects of skin care: body wraps, mudpacks, and facials.

And they ended up being quite competitive with each other.

Kerri says, "We felt, 'Man, you know, we got to see if we can do better than the other person.' And that actually helped us 'cause then we'd end up studying more, you know."

A fewllow student points out Poythress' willingness to learn. She says with a chuckle, "As far as our practical training goes. And you cannot be modest here - Wanda was always willing to jump right in there and if we had to take our clothes off, she would be there to do it.

Poythress notes with a laugh, "I'm too old to be modest and shy. I'm old and bold."

It takes nine months to get through the program at New Directions Hair Academy and culminates in graduation celebration.

Poythress says getting her certificate was "awesome. Everybody was crying but me. It was awesome."

She also had some words of wisdom for her classmates. "I said, 'You've just encouraged me so much' and then I did tell them that I hope every one of them would always follow their dream. "Don't let anything if it's at all possible stop you from your dream. Get out there and stay active! That way you won't get old so quick'."

Poythress says she is not old. "Just a little wrinkled," she notes laughing.

And now at 61, Poythress is waiting to take her state board exam. After that, she'd like to find work at a dermatologist's office, or even at the day spa being built right down the street.

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