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105-year-old California woman graduates from Stanford University

STANFORD, Calif. (NBC, KYMA/KECY) - More than 80 years after earning it, an 105-year-old Stanford graduate finally gets her diploma!

This past Sunday, Stanford University held its commencement exercises.

The ceremony for undergraduates ran about a half-hour behind schedule, so those getting their graduate degrees had to wait a bit to receive their diplomas, which did not bother Virginia Hislop in the least.

What's a few more minutes to wait for something she earned back in 1940. 84 years ago, the now 105-year-old Hislop was working on her master's degree in education at Stanford.

Life intervened

Hislop was almost done when, as she says, life intervened.

It was the eve of World War II and Hislop's husband George was a newly appointed second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

His unit was called up and Hislop soon found herself 1,500 miles away from Stanford.

"Fort Sill [in] Oklahoma, which is not my idea of place for a honeymoon, but I had not choice in the matter," Hislop recollected.

Yakima, Washington

There were soon two children to raise and Hislop never got back to that advanced degree in education, which, it should be noted, hindered her from a lifetime of work in education.

"It had absolutely no effect," Hislop shared.

Hislop spent decades on boards and committees at every level of schooling, from kindergarten to college, in her now hometown of Yakima, Washington.

"I gave it a great deal of thought and tried to improve the education where I lived," Hislop spoke.

Something amazing

What Hislop didn't give a lot of thought to was that degree, but recently, her son-in-law contacted Stanford and learned something amazing: At the time Hislop left Stanford in 1940, she had all the credits she needed to graduate, just hadn't completed a master's thesis.

Since then, that thesis requirement has been dropped ,meaning Hislop has all the credits she needs and has earned that degree.

And so, alongside 100 members of the class of 2024 was a single member of the class of 1940 and as Hislop got up on stage, the crowd got to their feet.

Hislop views it as recognition; not just of what she did 80+ years ago, but all the work in education she has done ever since.

It is a lesson the rest of the day's graduates would do well to take away: A diploma is nice, but not necessarily needed to make the world a better place.

"I do think I've made a difference in our community," Hislop expressed.

Article Topic Follows: California News

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Dillon Fuhrman

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