78-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Graduates From College

78-year-old Vivian Cunningham has earned her undergraduate degree in liberal studies at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

“If I could have done cartwheels across the stage, I would have,” she told Today. The great-grandmother of three has spent the last six years earning her degree. Before that she worked at the Alabama Power Company for 19 years as a custodian and eventually as the head of the mailroom. Once she she retired in 1992 she took the opportunity offered by the company through its tuition reimbursement program. She attended Virginia College where she got her associate’s degree in paralegal studies.

Cunningham decided to continue college and took night classes until she had to shift to virtual classes due to the pandemic.

“It was kind of hectic for me because I didn’t know too much about technology, so I had to have my daughter help me with that to learn to do it virtually,” she said.

Cunningham is thankful for the support she received from Samford’s Office of Professional Studies director Bryan Gill and associate director Nicole B. Otero.

Cunningham’s story has inspired other people to pursue education and daughter returned to school to earn her Ph.D. and her grandson also pursued his master’s due to her encouragement.

“I love to read to get more knowledge. I really love learning,” she said.

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