WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — She gives new meaning to the term college senior.
This Saturday, 84 year-old Charlotte Butler will be among the students receiving their diplomas at the commencement exercises at Post University.
“With my perseverance and faith I get from my church I decided I’m gonna do this,” Charlotte said.
Charlotte always regretted not finishing college when she was younger. She interrupted her pursuit of higher learning when wedding bells started to ring. She went on to have a loving family that includes 3 sons. Charlotte says they were a bit shocked when she told them — at age 80 — she was going to become a freshman at Post University.
“They were a bit overwhelmed,” Charlotte said.
And now that she’s set to receive her diploma — on Mother’s Day weekend — she starts to tear up when she talks about what her sons say to her now. They told her they’re proud of her.
“It fills my heart,” she said. “I want the best for them and I always encourage them to keep learning — even though they’re in their 60s now. It’s never too late to learn.”
They rallied around mom to help her complete her coursework. Charlotte says the toughest part about her collegiate experience was trying to master the computer.
“Today’s technology,” she said. “I had no knowledge of the computer. I went and bought a computer for seniors — it’s a touchscreen, which made things a little easier, but that didn’t solve things.”
She eventually mastered it and earned her way to her diploma in a few days. But, Charlotte says the biggest thing she learned at Post University was that her collegiate experience made something click inside — and all of the coursework actually made her feel better, which is important at this stage of her life.
“I never felt so happy and got my critical thinking skills going and I’m going to continue making them better. I don’t want Dementia,” she said.
Dementia runs in Charlotte’s family and she was afraid it might hit her. It hasn’t and she gives going back to college — credit for that.
“It actually makes you brain stronger so you can think,” Charlotte said.
Because of that, and other reasons, Charlotte hopes her story inspires other seniors out there.
“Do something for you,” she said. “Don’t sit back in the easy chair and watch TV all day long. Senior citizens owe it to themselves!”
Charlotte took her courses online. On Saturday, she’ll be on campus to accept the diploma that was originally a dream of hers so many decades ago.