Eighty-year-old woman receives diploma from Alabama A&M

WAAY 31 sat down with Donzella Washington to hear her inspirational story

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 9:49 PM
Updated: Dec 6, 2019 11:15 PM

Friday afternoon, an 80-year-old woman made a life long dream come true.

Donzella Washington’s one of about 400 students who celebrated graduation at Alabama A&M. WAAY 31 found out how Washington overcame her fear to earn her college degree.

"Just excited about walking across the stage and receiving that diploma that I already have the frame for," Washington said.

Washington had anxiously awaited decades for that moment.

A stutter stunted her confidence and stopped her from going to college after high school.

"I couldn't say a word without stomping my feet or hitting my thigh," she said.

After starting a family, Washington took speech classes to fix the problem.

"I decided that I didn't want to stutter anymore," Washington said.

Even though the courses helped Washington regain her confidence, she didn't have the time to get a degree. But, the tragic death of her husband in 2011 changed that.

During their 50-year marriage,Washington's husband always encouraged her to get her degree. After his death, she moved to Birmingham to live with her daughter. Washington also started classes at a community college and earned her Associates degree. One professor convinced her that wasn't enough.

"She told me you can go further," Washington said.

And, she did. Washington graduated magna cum laude with a degree in social work. One she dedicated to the man she loved.

"This degree is in honor of him because he just loved me so and I loved him so so I want to do it, I'm doing this in his honor," she said

She says her post-graduation plans include volunteering, and she's considering going back to school to get her master's degree.

Washington said she hopes her story will inspire others to know that it's never too late and you're never to old to do what you dreamed of.

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