Lifelong dream of college diploma to come true for 84-year-old

May 8, 2009 | Features, UToday
By Cathy Zimmer

It’s never too late to start or finish your degree. And the journey for Elizabeth J. Smith will end when she graduates from The University of Toledo’s University College Degree Programs Sunday, May 10, at the age of 84.

Smith graduated from Florence High School in Wisconsin in 1942 as the class valedictorian and was offered scholarships to three schools.

“There wasn’t enough money to go to school and women didn’t usually go to college,” she said.

Unable to pursue her college dream at that time, she moved to Chicago and worked as a bookkeeper. She married Hoyt Ensign and moved to Toledo, where they raised their two daughters. After their children graduated college, her family encouraged her to return to her studies.

Smith will graduate cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in adult liberal studies with a 3.5 GPA.  Her senior thesis focuses on strategies on aging, health and gerontology, and touches on her own personal experiences. She said she enjoyed the face-to-face interaction with students of all ages and participating in study groups.

“Elizabeth personifies the idea that it is never too late to start or finish an undergraduate degree,” said Director of University College Degree Programs Kim Pollauf. “She is an inspiration to anyone who ever doubted the ability to achieve success at a later point in life.”

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