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Inspirational story of 87-year-old student uncovers secrets to staying young, happy and successful

It's a reminder to never let age hinder us and that it's never too late to go after the dreams we nurture along the way.

Inspirational story of 87-year-old student uncovers secrets to staying young, happy and successful
Representational Cover Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

An inspiring tale about an 87-year-old woman named Rose who pursued her dreams of returning to school to finish her degree has time and again struck a chord with social media users. Her story was once again shared on X (formerly known as Twitter) by @CalltoActivism recently. It started with a fellow student sharing the first time they met the elderly woman in class. They recalled that "a gentle hand touched my shoulder" and when they turned around, they found "a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being."

"She said, 'Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?' I laughed and enthusiastically responded, 'Of course you may!' and she gave me a giant squeeze. 'Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?' I asked. She jokingly replied, 'I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…' 'No seriously,' I asked," the student shares. At 87, even though decades had passed, Rose admitted that she “always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” 

Representational Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock project
Representational Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock project

The pair instantly became good pals and they would leave class together every day for the next three months. The student loved listening to this "time machine" as they described her sharing her wisdom and experience. Sure enough, Rose quickly became popular on campus and easily made friends wherever she went. "She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the semester, we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us."

The student explained that as she got onto the podium and was ready to deliver her speech, she dropped her three-by-five cards on the floor. She seemed annoyed and a little embarrassed as she simply said, "I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know." The crowd erupted into cheers and laughter till she began again.

“We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy and achieving success," she said. The first secret is that "you have to laugh and find humor every day" and the second is that  "you’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!"

Her third secret was on the huge difference between growing older and growing up. "If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunities in change," she explained. Lastly, she said one should live life with no regrets. "The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”


The 87-year-old ended her inspirational speech by singing "The Rose" and telling the crowd to study the lyrics and live them out every day. According to Snopes, it's unclear if the story is fact or fiction but it has been credited to motivational speaker Dan Clark, who published it under the title "Never Too Old to Live Your Dream" in the 1999 book "Chicken Soup for the College Soul: Inspiring and Humorous Stories About College." Real or not, Rose's life lessons are sure to stick with everyone.


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