Leroy Harley graduated with a master's degree in teaching. He now plans to spend the next few years as a teacher.
Meet Leroy Harley, who's 71 years old. While others his age are normally well into retirement, he has other plans. The senior citizen recently made headlines for graduating from the University of South Carolina with a master's degree in teaching. He decided to embark on graduate studies at the age of 69 to pursue his passion for education. According to Harley, he was able to persevere through his course with the help and unconditional support of his loving family. He has no intention to retire just yet. Instead, he will continue teaching for the next few years, WLTX reports.
"I really am proud of myself," he said in an interview with the news outlet. "I mean I have to be." Harley spent several years moving around a lot and trying out different careers before finding his one true passion, teaching. After spending time in different places, the Bowman, South Carolina native moved back home in 1993. There, he spent time with his mother, who encouraged him to work with the local school in the area. He applied to the Bethune-Bowman Elementary School where he was originally hired as a teacher's aide. He shared, "Anything that was new and interesting, I became interested in it."
71-year-old Leroy Harley, who went back to school at the age of 69, has now graduated with his master's degree in teaching. https://t.co/9LGQKT3gAb— #becauseofthemwecan (@Becauseofthem) May 12, 2022
"I immediately got interested in teaching," Harley continued. "[As] I say, if it is something new, I am going to try it and see where it takes me." Eventually, his job as an aide led him to pursue his master's degree in teaching. At first, he was unsure about attending college. He explained, "I thought, 'Why am I going back to school at this age? I should be sorta coasting into retirement.' But I went on and did it anyhow." He added that he would not have been able to complete his course without his family, particularly his sister Patsy Rhett.
South Carolina native crosses USC graduation stage at 71, earns master's degree https://t.co/isSpgTjVaQ— 13WMAZ News (@13wmaznews) May 9, 2022
"I am elated at the fact that Lee, after all these years, decided to follow his heart," she noted. "He has. Education has always been a strong part of his life." For others looking to begin the next part of their professional journey at an unconventional age, Harley has some simple words of advice. "I say go ahead and do it, I mean, because... You bring a lot to the table, okay? There is a lot you have to learn at the table, but you [also] bring a lot to the table," he said. For now, the septuagenarian is unsure about when he wants to retire. He is certain, nonetheless, that he wants to continue teaching for the next few years.