The 75-year-old freshman
Pat Kinman always wanted to study. Now she can.

By Leslie Haggin Geary, CNN/Money Staff Writer


New York (CNN/money) - Pat Kinman, 75, always knew she'd go to college. She just didn't know it'd take nearly six decades to get there.

When she graduated from high school in 1945 there simply wasn't enough money for Kinman to go to college. She enrolled in nursing school under a government program, and while there fell in love with a young suitor she had met on a blind date.

She married him. "To get married out of high school wasn't unusual," she recalls. "Things were so different back then."

In no time, she was a mother -- of eight children. Though going to college would have been out of the question (there was no time for books with eight children, a husband and house to care for) Kinman never abandoned her dream of becoming a student.

As her children grew up, she started to take occasional classes at a local community college near her home in Castro Valley, California. But she never had the time to enroll full-time.

That changed last September, when Kinman joined the freshman class at the University of California at Berkeley.

Kinman applied to the school after she was told that the university had a special re-entry program to encourage older individuals to go to college, either as returning or first-time students.

When Berkeley invited her to join the freshman class this past year, "it surprised me to no end," says Kinman.

Now instead of looking after a home, making dinner, caring for her late husband who died two years ago, Kinman focuses her energy on required classes, such as a Shakespeare seminar, international folklore and anthropology.

When she declares a major next year, she'll pick landscape architecture because she loves design, color and plants. Still, unlike her classmates who hope to use their college degrees to secure good jobs, Kinman says college "is strictly for my pleasure."

That's not to say the academics aren't difficult.

"It's extremely challenging," says Kinman, whose own children encourage her to "just pass the class, Mom."

She intends to do that -- and more. After all, she waited too long to get to Cal and it's important to finish, don a cap and gown and collect her bachelor's degree.

"I might be an example to others who think they are over-the-hill," she predicts.  Top of page

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