May 14, 2007 in Nation/World

95-year-old grad makes her mark

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

Elma Briggs, right, hugs her cousin, Nola Ochs, 95, after Fort Hays State University’s commencement Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

HAYS, Kan. – At the age of 95, Nola Ochs is the world’s oldest college graduate. But her studying days might not be over just yet – she may go for a master’s degree.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I started it,” said Ochs.

Ochs received her bachelor’s degree in general studies and history during Saturday’s graduation at Fort Hays State University.

When she was handed her degree by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the crowd gave her a standing ovation, breaking a rule against applauding until the names of all 2,176 graduates – including her granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs – were read.

Relatives from as far away as California wore “Nola’s #1 Fans” T-shirts, cheered and waved American flags as she walked across the stage.

“I was just another student,” Ochs said afterward.

However, none of the other graduates will be entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest college graduate. The former record holder was Mozelle Richardson, who earned a degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2004 at the age of 90.

Ochs is the matriarch of a family that includes three sons – a fourth died in 1995 – along with 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

She started taking classes occasionally at Dodge City Community College after the 1972 death of her husband of 39 years, Vernon. After moving to Fort Hays last fall from her farm southwest of Jetmore, she completed the final 30 hours required for her degree.


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