Violet calls age nothing but just a number with her first degree at 96

Violet calls age nothing but just a number with her first degree at 96

FLASHBACK: 96-year-old Jamaican-American woman named Violet Edwards made history for being the oldest graduate in Miami, the oldest black American woman to earn a degree and the fifth oldest in the world to do so; she received her degree from Mercy College in Associate of Science. She has been jokingly called the ‘oldest newest graduate’.

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Edwards lived a life of sacrifice and helped put her children through school. Having been born in Jamaica in 1925 she was the youngest of three children who showed academic promise. She and her family migrated to the US to pursue better opportunities and it paid off; her daughter Christine Edwards (M.D, F.A.C.O.G) became medical director for Florida Perintal Center, LLC. With the backing of her family, she then went back to school for her own tertiary education, even learning how to takes courses online.

The example of Violet is not the only example of not allowing age to shatter our dreams and stop us for reaching for higher grounds. I read a post on Quora Digest of a man named Steven Ussery who is now a retired engineer with over thirty years’ experience in networking and communication protocol, embedded systems and factory robotics/automation. He even worked in the famed Silicon Valley from 1989-2018. However, this is worth noting that this was achieved during his second career and started this work when he was nearly forty years old.

Ussery abandoned a career as a civil engineer, went back to school and got a second degree. He then stared as an entry-level engineer at Apple when he was almost forty. He then went on to have a successful three-decade career on Silicon Valley. On the post on Quora Digest, Ussery encouraged people not limit their mindset and get out of their own way because life in never a straight line and the welcoming of wonder and wandering can transport us to exciting paths in life.

One of the contributors to Steven Ussery’s post was Glenn Simkus who stated that he began composing music at fifty-two years of age. He now distributes his music on various online music platforms across the world. To bring this example closer to home, there is a rising gospel star in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe named Mai Margerat Mwamuka who launched a musical career in her fifties and so far, has won awards for her work, stunned audiences with her showmanship and allowed her gift to shine on a wider platform.

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The list is endless and here are a few examples of people and my personal champions who did not let age define what they can do. Oprah Winfrey who at sixty-nine (69) is still CEO and Chairperson of her television network OWN and CEO of her production house Harpo. Susan Boyle who recorded the CD that would make her a millionaire at age forty-eight despite critics against her age and image. Emmanuel Riva at eighty-nine who was the oldest Oscar nominee for her work on Amour. Phoenix woman Tina Turner rebranded and relaunched an ailing musical career at the age of forty-five (45).

Author Lee Child who launched his first book at age forty-three and even encourages authors to launch writing careers later in life. Sidney Poitier may have taken that advice because he wrote the 2013 novel ‘Montaro Caine’ at eighty-five (85). My favorite is probably actress Cicely Tyson who proclaimed that at ninety-two there is still a lot of work to be done. Yes, it’s true when people get older their mobility and brain function is affected. However, because of these champions I have decided to keep going at any age because it truly is just a number, as long as I am able to achieve my purpose.

Kudzai Mhangwa

Kudzai Mhangwa is a writer, actor and musician. He writes poetry, plays, essays and short stories. His work has been featured on House of Mutapa, Atrebla Magazine, Ka'edi Africa, Poetry Soup and elsewhere.

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