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105-year-old dons cap and gown, receives overdue degree from Stanford University

105-year-old Stanford alum receives graduate degree after 83-year delay
105-year-old Stanford alum receives graduate degree after 83-year delay 02:30

STANFORD -- At age 105, Virginia Hislop has lived a full life with two children, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. She has devoted much of her life to education and has served on school and college boards in central Washington, where she lives.

Despite her success, she says something was missing.

"From time to time, I wished I had finished and gotten my master's (degree)," Hislop said. "Part of it was the fact that I've been a college director for a good number of years and I didn't have the advanced degree that some of the other ones did."

Hislop had taken the required classes at Stanford University but had not yet submitted a master's thesis when the U.S. entered World War II in 1941.

"The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor," Hislop explained.

She quickly married her college sweetheart before his Army deployment. She assisted in the war effort then focused on her family but never finished her thesis.

Virginia Hislop
105-year-old Virginia Hislop receives a master's degree at Stanford.  KPIX

"Fast-forward 83 years -- we don't have a thesis requirement anymore so she's actually satisfied the requirements for Master of Arts in the Graduate School of Education," said Daniel Schwartz, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education. "So, 83 years later, we're honoring this woman who has done so much."

Sunday afternoon at the education department's commencement ceremony, fellow graduates and Hislop's family, many of whom live in the Bay Area, gave her a standing ovation as she walked onto the stage with a little support from her cane.

"So much gratitude. She's believed in all of us and cheered us on all the way through and we get to cheer her on now. It's pretty cool," said Elizabeth Jensen, Hislop's granddaughter. "I feel like this is the crowning glory of her amazing career. This is her lifetime achievement award."

Hislop received her master's academic hoop and her diploma.

"Very satisfied, very pleased," Hislop beamed.

She was quick to remind people it's never too late to get a college degree. And this one added one more highlight to her many accomplishments.

When asked what she'd do with the diploma, she smiled.

"Add it to the others I have in the basement," she said.

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