Skip to content

90-Year-Old Mississippi Woman Celebrates Earning Honorary GED

90-Year-Old Mississippi Woman Celebrates Earning Honorary GED

She’s making sure she doesn’t have any regrets!

A 90-year-old Mississippi woman is celebrating earning her honorary GED, Fox Carolina reports.

Everyone has at least one dream they want to fulfill. For some, it’s a business they’ve been wanting to launch. For others, it’s to cross off skydiving or taking a trip to a faraway land off their bucket list. Sometimes the dream simply becomes finishing what they once started. As people get older and more reflective, the desire to finish becomes stronger; the dream that once felt impossible begins to seem more and more real.

Such is the case with Ellouise Lewis, a 90-year-old woman from Mississippi. Lewis dropped out of high school when she was only in the 10th grade, a decision she said she’s regretted her entire adult life. She shared that regret with staff members at her nursing home, simply conversing and taking inventory of things she would’ve done differently in her life. Those members took Lewis’ story to heart and began working to find ways to help her finish high school.

“When they told me here that I could get my GED, I was happy about it, I’m still happy. Excuse me, because this makes me happy to know that I can do this,” Lewis told reporters through tears. 

Staff helped Lewis get enrolled with Wells of SouthGate, a Christian learning center in Gulfport, Mississippi. There she was able to study for the exam and brush up on all she needed to know. After passing a mock test administered by the organization, Lewis was presented with an honorary GED certificate.  

“I never did get a chance to graduate until this day,” she said. 



Lewis joins a growing number of seniors who went back to school later in life to obtain the degrees and certifications they’ve always wanted. 

In 2019, there was Donzella Washington, an 80-year-old Fultondale, Alabama resident who earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama. Washington said she was inspired to finish college after moving with her daughter. She graduated magna cum laude and planned to use her degree to help out at nursing homes and with young people. She even had hopes of possibly pursuing a master’s degree. 

“I want to inspire young people and even adults, to let them know that it’s never too late. I don’t know what 80 really feels like. You have a dream, please finish that dream. You can do it. You just have to believe in yourself…Learning is just really fun. I feel like with the help of God who has brought me this far, I will be able to accomplish and obtain my master’s degree,” Washington said. 

Then there was Joseph M. Grant, a 70-year-old South Carolina native who earned his doctorate in political science from Howard University. Grant spent most of his career working in politics as a lobbyist; however, his dream was to attend an HBCU. When he got the opportunity to attend Howard, he jumped at it! Halfway through, he suffered a medical emergency that impeded him from reading and writing at the level he was used to. Still, he pushed on, determined to honor his commitment and finally fulfill his dream, for himself and his children.

“I always wanted to go to Howard, literally all my life. This is my first HBCU experience. When I graduated high school, there was a big move to integrate, and because they needed Black students and I needed the money, it was an easy decision to go to those schools. I was determined [as I got older] that when my children were in college, they would go to an HBCU,” Grant explained.

Next, there’s 71-year-old Leroy Harley, a South Carolina native whose mother inspired him to take up a career in education after moving back home. Harley admits he was nervous at first but decided to forge ahead, earning a master’s degree in teaching from the University of South Carolina. 

“I thought, ‘Why am I going back to school at this age? I should be sorta coasting into retirement.’ But I went on and did it anyhow…I really am proud of myself. I mean I have to be,” said Harley.

And it doesn’t stop there! 77-year-old Timothy Brown returned to school to earn his bachelor’s degree in drama from South Carolina State University. A Vietnam veteran turned Greyhound bus driver, Brown experienced a lot while on the road, turning his experiences driving during the Civil Rights Movement into a full stage play. Once completed, Brown said he would return to school to get the qualifications necessary to operate in the theater world, studying his new craft at great length. 

“I was up quite a few nights with Shakespeare…the tutoring, it helped me out quite a bit…I was in class with my grandbabies. The most rewarding part was being able to go back and get my degree and be paid to do that,” said Brown. 

The elder said he hopes his story is a reminder to others that there is no age limit on dreaming.

“As long as you have your health and strength, you’re never too old,” said Brown

It’s a sentiment shared by many of the seniors, Lewis included. Staff members at the nursing home said they were ecstatic to have helped the 90-year-old woman fulfill her lifelong dream. Her immense gratitude for their help makes the whole thing that much sweeter.

“It’s a blessing to me and to my co-workers to be able to make this happen,” said Lisa Perdue, an activity director at Lewis’ nursing home. 



While the honorary certificate isn’t the same as an official GED, it represents Lewis’ ability to pass South Gate’s course in preparation for the GED, and that’s all that matters to her. The eldest of the senior migration back to school, Lewis represents something far bigger than just education. She represents determination, a hunger to finish what you started. She’s a example of ensuring that one leaves completely empty having done everything you said you would. It’s a goal we would all be so lucky to obtain, one that only comes into view with age and wisdom. 

Currently, Ms. Lewis is being flooded with congratulatory cards from those who’ve heard her story. If you would like to send her well wishes, you can send your card to the Gulfport Care Center at 11240 Canal Rd. Gulfport, MS 39503.

Congratulations Ms. Lewis! 

90yo Mississippi woman celebrates earning an honorary GED. Photo Courtesy of Gulfport Care Center