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105-Year-Old Great-Grandma Receives Master's 83 Years After Leaving Stanford

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A senior woman smiles broadly while wearing a cap and gown.
Virginia Hislop receiving her master's degree in education on June 16, 2024. (Charles Russo for Stanford University)

A 105-year-old great-grandmother received a standing ovation and a master’s degree from Stanford over the weekend, over eight decades since she left the university.

In 1941, Virginia “Ginger” Hislop was 22 years old, about to complete her master’s degree in education at Stanford. The Palo Alto-born student had completed all of her required classes but hadn’t quite finished her thesis when America suddenly entered World War II. Overnight, Hislop’s priorities changed.

Hislop quickly married her college boyfriend George, and spent the next five years traveling around the U.S. with him as an army wife. She gave birth to two children, the youngest of whom was born while George was stationed overseas. Despite her family commitments, Hislop remained passionate about education, working as a college director, spending decades serving on school and college boards, and raising funds to open new schools in Yakima Valley, Washington, where she ultimately settled with her husband.

Over the weekend, Hislop was finally handed her master’s diploma by the dean of the Graduate School of Education, Daniel Schwartz. “We don’t have a thesis requirement anymore, so she’s actually satisfied the requirements for Master of Arts,” he said. “Eighty-three years later, we’re honoring this woman who has done so much.”

Hislop walked across the stage with the assistance of a cane and smiled broadly as she was handed her diploma. “My goodness,” she said. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”


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