"Don't let people define who you are and what you can or cannot do."
Those are the words of Anna Pedford, a soon to be graduate from Mountain View College. You'll notice something special about Anna. She isn't quite like the rest of this year's graduating class. That's because Anna is 74 years young.
The most mature individual of the Class of 2019, the woman nicknamed "Momma" by her classmates is set to receive her associate's degree from MVC on May 16, 2019. Anna is a grandmother to eight children and a great-grandmother to three. Her journey to this point has come with many twists and turns, but she never gave up on her dream of earning a degree. Anna graduated from Booker T. Washington in 1963 and eventually started taking classes at El Centro and MVC in the 1980s.
"I wasn't prepared for college after high school, I wanted to be like my friends and start working," Anna said. "As time went on, however, I noticed my bus stop was in front of El Centro College so I had no excuse not to take a class. I started with one class at a time. I was the oldest person in my class and it felt like a slap in the face, but then I found the drive."
Fast forward three decades later and now Anna is set to walk across the stage. Faculty, students, friends and family members have supported her over the years, but they still often ask, why are you doing this? In Anna's mind, the answer is pretty simple. "I'm doing this because I'm using my degree as target practice. I want to set an example for seniors that just because you're in your 60s or 70s, you don't have to just sit back and watch soap operas or not do anything. You need to use your mind and stay mentally healthy. I'm way ahead of the game at my age. I refuse to sit around and give it up because seniors have a lot to offer, so strive for something better."
"Momma" isn't stopping with her associate's degree. This summer, Anna will begin taking classes at UNT-Dallas as she pursues her bachelor's and eventually master's degrees. Anna has dreams of working in criminal psychology or anything that deals with how the human brain operates.