TURLOCK (CBS13) — She may be the oldest graduate in the Turlock Unified School District, but at 79 years old, Alice Walner says it’s better late than never.
She admits it took a lot of hard work to get here, but on Wednesday, she did something she’s waited 62 years to do—walk in a cap and gown and get her high-school diploma.
She’s doing what she wasn’t able to do in 1952, now with her family watching proudly, including her husband of almost 50 years, their five children and many more.
“I have 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson,” she said.
Almost two years ago, Alice set out to earn her high-school diploma. The principal of Turlock Adult High School, Isaias Rumayor, remembers the day he met Alice.
“I immediately found out she was 79, and so i was intrigued and impressed, and the first question that came to my mind was why?” Rumayor said.
“I’ve always wanted my diploma, and course I quit school, got married, raised kids, and worked, and now it’s time to settle down,” Alice said.
She’d left high school at 16 to get married. After six busy decades of raising kids and working as a secretary, a barber, a business owner and volunteer—among many other things—she says she finally found some free time in her 70s and decided to finish what she started so many decades ago.
“She got up early in the morning and late at night,” her husband Sherman said. “She wouldn’t give it up.”
Of course things are much different than they were in 1952. Alice had to take her classes online.
“I’m king of computer illiterate,” she said.
“Alice would call whenever she got into a little jam with technology,” Rumayor said.
And now, 67.5 credits later—she hated biology—Alice is finally able to walk.
“It’s never too late to learn that’s right, and if you’ve got a dream, go for it,” Alice said.
She says she has absolutely no regrets leaving school at 16 years old, and now that she has her high-school diploma, she says she’s done waking up early to study, and she’s going ot spend more time with her husband.
She says part of the inspiration to go back to school was watching her husband and son get their diplomas through the military recently.