Annie Dillard decided to go back to college because, at age 92, she wasn’t through learning.
“I can’t just stay at home and not do anything,” she said. “I learned you can look at a newspaper or watch television to see something happen, but you can’t ask it a question if you don’t understand. I wanted to know the answers to why things were happening.”
Dillard collected her Associates in Arts degree at Midlands Technical College on Wednesday night, one of more than 2,200 degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded at Colonial Life Arena. Dillard, a cosmetologist, is listed as the oldest graduate in MTC history.
“I just feel excited,” Dillard said prior to the commencement. “This is the best thing that has happened to me since sliced bread.”
Being in the oldest student in each of her classes didn’t affect Dillard. She said she was there to learn and did not pay much attention to others around her. She said the students she did meet were very nice and treated her with respect.
This is the second degree Dillard has earned. She first earned a degree in early childhood education from Allen University in 1967.
She said she always had a thirst for knowledge, going back to first grade.
“We didn’t have preschool or kindergarten, so you couldn’t start school until you were 6 years old,” Dillard said. “My first book was the Bible and my next book was the dictionary.”
She said one of the first words she learned to spell was Mississippi.
This summer, Dillard will be back in the classroom earning credits toward a certificate in early childhood education. Her goal is to work in her daughter’s doctor’s office.
While Dillard was the oldest student to walk across the stage, MTC also acknowledged the work of 50 high school students who earned degrees and certificates from their dual-enrollment programs through the school.
“Midlands Tech is about inclusivity,” said MTC president Ron Rhames. “We’re here to provide everyone an opportunity to do what Ms. Annie has done. Our goal is to create pathways to success for our students whether they get a degree here or move on to another college or university.”
Dillard said opportunities exist for everyone, no matter his or her age.
“Don’t feel like you can’t do this. You can make if you try,” Dillard said. “All you have to do is try.”