A grandmother can never acquire too much wisdom. After dropping out of school in the sixth grade to help her family manage their farm in the 1930s, this 89-year-old went back to school to get her degree.

Ella Washington was born in North Carolina, where she spent her younger years helping her family, and would soon grow to have 12 children of her own. She put them ahead of everything and constantly worked any job she could in order to provide the best life she could for her kids.

“Coming to D.C., there weren’t many opportunities for a poorly educated black woman,” Washington’s daughter, Ellen Mitchell, told Liberty University. “But she worked hard doing whatever she could to make sure we were taken care of.”

Washington worked as a custodian, and even a certified nursing assistant at an adult daycare. She did not retire until around six years ago.

Despite once lacking a higher education, Washington taught her children to always value the quest for knowledge, and taught them reading, writing and arithmetic before they entered school. Washington’s grandmother did the very same for her when she was younger.

“She has always been a lifelong learner,” Mitchell told Liberty University. “Her desire for learning and for pursuing an education became a family tradition.”

As her children got older, Washington took time to herself to earn her GED at the age of 49, and, at her daughter’s suggestion, decided to go further and obtain her associate’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

“My mother is a remarkable woman,” Mitchell said. “I learned how to be strong because of her example. Now, she has set the bar for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

On Thursday, according to the school’s website, Washington became the oldest person to graduate in Liberty University’s 2018 class. And she won’t stop there – Washington is pushing forward to receive her bachelor’s degree in History from the same university.

“Education will help you make the best life for yourselves and those who come after you,” Washington promised.


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