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Donzella Washington

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By BWSTimes Staff

Huntsville, Ala. — Donzella Washington is proving why age is nothing but a number. At 80-years young, she became the eldest person to receive a degree from Alabama A&M University (AAMU) — a public, historically black, land-grant university located in Huntsville, Alabama.

On Friday, December 6, 2019, Washington was one of the 400 AAMU students to walk across the stage and receive a college degree.

According to her school’s website, “Washington received her degree in social work, graduating magna cum laude with an overall GPA of 3.64. During her final semester, she earned a 4.0.

Washington’s husband passed before her college pursuit. After his passing, she moved into her daughter’s Kimberley’s home near Birmingham, Alabama. 

Washington said that as a child, she always felt less intelligent than her three sisters. They became part of her motivation to return to education. 

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She learned about the AAMU’s satellite program accessible to her at the Lawson State Community College campus in downtown Birmingham. In 2013, she enrolled in two courses and increased her course load as she became more comfortable with the idea of becoming a student again. 

Washington said that she walked in memory of her late husband, who had always encouraged her to pursue her dreams during their 50 years of marriage. 

Washington is now planning to pursue her master’s degree. However, while she prepares for that, she plans to travel as a motivational speaker in hopes of inspiring people of all ages to place more faith in themselves and to pursue their aspirations.

“It’s all about believing in yourself. A lot of times, there are obstacles in our way. But we have to really believe that we can achieve. There are always people that are placed in our way to help us,” Washington said during an interview with Dr. Andrew Hugin. 

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