Elderly College Grad: Studying Keeps Mind Active

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A University of Texas at Dallas graduate says she's not quite ready to join the workforce at the age of 90.

"When I shut that computer down and realized I had no more papers to write for college, it really hit me," Helen Small said laughing. "I was almost in tears. Well, I have to decide what I'm going to do with the rest of my life."

Small graduated with a master's degree in psychology last week. The spry grandmother made the decision to go back to school after her husband of 62 years passed away. She had left school back in 1939 for her sweetheart to become a wife and mother.

She received her undergraduate degree in 2007, fulfilling what she said was that nagging "unfilled desire" that prevented her from never giving up.

"It's just mind over matter," Small told television station WFAA in Dallas. "If you want to do something badly enough you do it."

"You know, being with the younger people keeps you young and studying keeps your mind active," she added.

Small became the second-oldest to graduate at UT-Dallas. She encourages seniors to follow their life-long dreams.

"I hope I can inspire some of these people to continue their education," she told WFAA. "That's my goal."

She plans on volunteering her time and maybe even signing up for a few more college classes. Right now, she has no plans to pursue her doctorate.

Small was not the oldest student to walk across the stage during this graduation season. A 94-year-old California woman received her college diploma this spring from Mills College in Oakland.

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