89-Year-Old Earns Her College Degree and Plans on Continuing Her Education

Credit: Liberty University
Credit: Liberty University

She has twelve children.

At 89 years old, Ella Washington is proving it’s never too late to accomplish your goals.

The grandmother just received her associate’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Liberty University and now plans on continuing her education.

Washington grew up in North Carolina during the 1930s, when education came second to working on the family farm. She dropped out of school in the sixth grade.

When she got married and had 12 children, she wanted more for them.

“She has always been a lifelong learner,” Washington’s daughter, Ellen Mitchell, said. "Her desire for learning and for pursuing an education became a family tradition. She taught all of her children how to read, write, and do math prior to their beginning school.”

Washington moved to Washington, D.C., as a young mother and had a variety of jobs, ranging from a custodian at the Pentagon to an office assistant to a certified nursing assistant at an adult daycare.

She enrolled in an adult education program and earned her GED diploma in 1978 at age 49. She was still working up until about six years ago, her family said.

In 2012, she enrolled in Liberty’s online program.

Washington is now working on her bachelor’s degree in history at the school.

“Everybody should know their history and learn more about it. A lot of people don’t know much about history. There’s nothing wrong with learning more,” Washington said.

Mitchell said her mom is setting the standard for the future generations of their family.

“My mother is a remarkable woman,” Mitchell said. “I learned how to be strong because of her example. Now, she has set the bar for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”