One grandmother proved that it’s never too late to get a college diploma even at age 74.
Pat Ormond recently received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology after more than four decades of taking her first college class in 1978.
It was also the same day when the Ormond family’s 22-year-old granddaughter, Melody was graduating from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). “I always knew that I was going to graduate from college,” said Melody Ormond. “I just never knew that my nana was also going to be there.”
It’s a double celebration for Pat who’s turning 75 this month, she had taken her first college class at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta and had to drop out after one semester, as they moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Pat had the responsibilities of her family and worked as an accountant for decades. She did take an occasional class at UTC, but her family encouraged her to go back to finish her degree after she retired.
Pat finally agreed when Melody transferred as a sophomore to study psychology at UTC, they both enrolled at UTC with enough college credits to be able to graduate together. They had to take classes online during the pandemic, “It’s definitely more difficult, and I prefer in-class,” Pat said. “I really enjoyed the discussions and being able to interact with so many people from different backgrounds. Not having those people around made it harder.”
Melody said that before the pandemic, her grandmother preferred morning classes, while she would sleep in and join in the afternoon and they would often bump into one another while on campus. “One of her classes would end at the same time mine would,” Melody said. “I would see her and just scream and yell ‘nana!’ until I got her attention.”
Pat and Melody graduated on November 20 as part of UTC’s graduating 2020 class and even though the ceremony was socially distanced, which meant no audience members were allowed, both of them walked the stage together due to the alphabetical seating. It was a huge achievement for Pat and she was treated like a celebrity.
“We are so proud to have graduates like Melody Ormond and her grandmother, Pat Ormond, in the UTC class of 2020,” Steven R. Angle, UTC Chancellor, said. “Together, they personify the determination, commitment, and love of lifelong learning we encourage in every UTC graduate.”
Pat has an uplifting message for all nontraditional college students who want to get their degrees, “Learning never stops,” Pat said. “That’s something that my father instilled in me when I was younger. No matter what you do, learning never stops. Even if it’s auditing a few classes, there’s always that option.”
Now Pat is working on getting another degree- a bachelor’s in history. Melody is currently job hunting, and wants to earn a master’s in clinical psychology to work as a counselor, but is in no hurry just like her nana!