LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- An 89-year-old woman graduated from Liberty University with her associate degree in interdisciplinary studies.
Ella Washington was so focused on raising her 12 children and putting them through school that she never got the chance to pursue higher education until recently.
Washington grew up on a farm in North Carolina during the 1930s, where she dropped out of school in the sixth grade.
She always had a passion for learning, which she reflected onto her children.
"She has always been a lifelong learner,” said Washington’s daughter Ellen Mitchell. "Her desire for learning and for pursuing an education became a family tradition. She taught all of her children how to read, write, and do math prior to their beginning school, just as her grandmother taught her and her siblings.”
In 1978 at the age of 49, Washington earned her GED diploma. At the recommendation of her daughter, she enrolled in the online learning program at Liberty in 2012.
Washington plans to continue her education and is working towards her bachelor's degree in history.
“To me, history is a great subject,” she said. “Everybody should know their history and learn more about it. A lot of people don’t know much about history. There’s nothing wrong with learning more.”
Her strong work ethic was an important example for her children, who now also prioritize education in the same way.
“My mother is a remarkable woman,” Mitchell said. “I learned how to be strong because of her example. Now, she has set the bar for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Washington said new graduates should continue to use their educations in their new careers.
“Education will help you make the best life for yourselves and those who come after you,” she said.