105-year-old great-grandmother gets her Stanford degree after 83 years

Eighty-three years after leaving her master’s program at Stanford University for love, 105-year-old Virginia “Ginger” Hislop returned to earn her degree, proving it’s never too late to get an education.

Hislop’s journey began in 1936 at Stanford University School of Education, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in education. She graduated in 1940 and promptly embarked on obtaining her master’s degree in education to fulfill her ambition of becoming a teacher.

Then, after completing her coursework and before her final thesis was submitted, Hislop decided to shelve her ambitions for later. World War II was in full swing, and her then-boyfriend, George Hislop ( a GSE student in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), was called to serve in the war. The news compelled the couple to marry and Hislop left her program.

“I thought it was one of the things I could pick up along the way if I needed it and I always enjoyed studying, so that wasn’t really a great concern to me — and getting married was,” Hislop said according to a release from Stanford Graduate School of Education.

After leaving Stanford, Hislop went on to a career in Washington state politics, getting her start on a local school board after her daughter Anne's school suggested she take home economics instead of advanced English.

She would later chair the Yakima School Board of Directors, become a founding member of the board of directors for Yakima Community College, and help to start Heritage University in Toppenish, Washington, where she served on the board for 20 years.

Virginia Hislop accepting her diploma for her master of arts in education at the GSE’s 2024 commencement ceremony from Dean Dan Schwartz. (Charles Russo)
Virginia Hislop accepting her diploma for her master of arts in education at the GSE’s 2024 commencement ceremony from Dean Dan Schwartz. (Charles Russo)

Recently, her son-in-law Doug Jensen contacted Stanford.

At the time she left Stanford in 1940, Hislop had all the credits she needed to graduate — she just hadn’t completed a master’s thesis. Since then, however, the thesis requirement has been dropped by the University, meaning Hislop had all the credits she needed and earned that degree.

On June 16, Hislop turned her tassel and received her master of arts in education as the lone member of the class of 1940. According to Stanford Graduate School of Education, her march across the stage was met with a standing ovation led by her fellow graduates and her family, which includes grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“My goodness. I’ve waited a long time for this,” Hislop said in Stanford's release.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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