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AS IT IS - 70-Year-Old Graduate Proves It's Never Too Late

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Jerry Reid on the University of Virginia's Hoo Crew.  He's the one in the orange wig.
Jerry Reid on the University of Virginia's Hoo Crew. He's the one in the orange wig.

From VOA Learning English, this is As It Is. I'm Anna Matteo in Washington.

Many schools across the United States hold graduation ceremonies this time of year. College and university graduations are especially happy celebrations. With degrees in hand, graduates start a new and important part of their lives.

This is especially true for Jerry Reid. He graduated this year from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville with a bachelor's degree. Wearing a UVA t-shirt, backpack and a boyish smile, he looks like most of the students on campus - except for his gray hair.

You see, Jerry Reid is 70 years old.

He says he did not just want a degree. He says he wanted to have the full college experience he did not have as a younger man.

So, Mr. Reid joined the "Hoo Crew," a group that cheers loudly for the school at sports events.

Jerry Reid is 70-year-old UVA Graduate
Jerry Reid is 70-year-old UVA Graduate

He also joined a fraternity, a men's group on campus.

He went to bars and sang drinking songs along with many other students.

"From Rugby Hill to Vinegar Mill, we're gonna' get drunk tonight."

Mr. Reid is popular on campus.

"He's the coolest 70-year-old I know though."

His age does not seem to make any difference.

About a half-century ago, in his 20s, Mr. Reid was not in school. Instead, he was racing cars and chasing girls. But he says his friend Bill invited him to UVA parties.

"Bill Sturman just told me what a screw-up I was, that there was no way I'd ever make anything out of my life unless I came up here and went to school with him."

That was in 1963. Jerry Reid says it took him 48 years to take that advice. In 2011, he entered college. His last examination before graduation involved the Civil War general for the South, Stonewall Jackson.

"Our next speaker is Jerry Reid."

"His (Stonewall Jackson's) blunders were not as large as his enemy's in most cases…and astounding luck remained on his side."

UVA Professor Luke Wright says Mr. Reid influenced students. Professor Wright says he opened the minds of the young adults. The teacher says Mr. Reid showed them "that life does not end at 40."

Quite the opposite, the 70-year-old college graduate believes that getting older can be the beginning of a dream. He advises others that it is never too late to try to make the life you have always wanted.

"Remember that path that you left waits for you. It's there. It's yours. All you gotta' do is get out of your own way and get back to it. And that's exactly what I did."

Jerry Reid and his wife Susan.
Jerry Reid and his wife Susan.

​Mr. Reid says that he and his wife Susan now will take some time off to enjoy his college degree. Then he will return to UVA to begin studying for his graduate degree. But before he does that, he says he and his wife still have more graduation parties to go to.

I'm Anna Matteo.

Is there a path in life that you would like to get back on? Let us know in our comment section where you can practice your English.

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