Pat and Melody Ormond received their bachelor's degrees from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga together, at the same commencement ceremony.
Pat Ormond went back to college in her 70s. While she initially thought it was a silly idea, she has since graduated from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) where she majored in anthropology. The milestone is particularly notable as she graduated alongside her granddaughter Melody Ormond, who studied psychology. Both women received their bachelor's degrees during the same commencement ceremony in November this year, CNN reports. UTC Chancellor Steven R. Angle stated that the college was proud to have graduates like Ormond and her granddaughter in the Class of 2020. Now, the 74-year-old hopes to set an example for other nontraditional college students who want to earn their degrees.
"I always knew that I was going to graduate from college," said Melody Ormond. "I just never knew that my nana was also going to be there." Her grandmother, 74-year-old Pat Ormond, received a bachelor's degree alongside Melody. https://t.co/kOkbXsGDzo @UTChattanooga #Chattanooga— Greg Funderburg (@gfunderburgNC9) December 12, 2020
The grandmother took her first college class in Atlanta at Kennesaw State University. However, after completing one semester, she dropped out of college and moved to Chattanooga. For the next several decades, she worked as an accountant and raised a family, including Melody's father. Though she took a few classes here and there at UTC, her family had always encouraged her to return to college full-time, especially after she retired. At first, she was hesitant, but when her granddaughter transferred to UTC after a year at Berea College in Kentucky, Ormond finally gave in and joined her. They both enrolled with enough credits to graduate together.
A 72-year-old grandma, Pat Ormond, has finally graduated from college.— Legit.ng (@legitngnews) December 13, 2020
After quitting school 42 years ago, the septuagenarian went back to college with her granddaughter and they both graduated together.
Age can't stop you from achieving your dreams!https://t.co/ifnxJaT9L4
Melody is very proud of her grandmother and makes sure everyone is aware of the fact. "I always brag since she started going to school with me. I’ve told people, like every class, all my friends, ‘Oh, Nana, she goes to school, my Nana, my Nana, did you hear that?" Melody shared in an interview with UTC News. "And everybody’s always like, ‘Oh wow, that’s so cool.’ She knocked it out of the park." Indeed she did, even though online classes were more difficult for her once the pandemic hit the United States.
Many graduation ceremonies look different in the time of COVID-19. But for Melody Ormond, it looked different because of the classmate who graduated alongside her: Her grandmother, 75-year-old Pat Ormond. https://t.co/KUXo3T4rwW— WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@wjz) December 6, 2020
"It's definitely more difficult, and I prefer in-class," Ormond told CNN. "I really enjoyed the discussions and being able to interact with so many people from different backgrounds. Not having those people around made it harder." Nonetheless, she persevered and now has a degree to her name. Melody and her grandmother attended the socially-distanced commencement ceremony together, where their names were called one after the other. The 74-year-old has become somewhat of a celebrity on campus because of her achievement. Chancellor Angle affirmed, "We are so proud to have graduates like Melody Ormond and her grandmother, Pat Ormond, in the UTC Class of 2020. Together, they personify the determination, commitment, and love of lifelong learning we encourage in every UTC graduate."
Congratulations to UTC Class of 2020!! pic.twitter.com/nwnQS8KeOk— UTConfessions (@UTCconfessionz) May 2, 2020
Ormond is now working on earning a second bachelor's degree in history and hopes to inspire other non-traditional college students. "Learning never stops," she said. "That's something that my father instilled in me when I was younger. No matter what you do, learning never stops. Even if it's auditing a few classes, there's always that option." Meanwhile, her granddaughter Melody is on the hunt for a job. She is also interested in earning a master's degree in clinical psychology so she can become a counselor. However, she said there was no rush: her nana has shown her that there is plenty of time yet.