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Eileen Doyle, 77, joined cyberspace classmates from across the country to participate in Ashford University's traditional commencement ceremony on May 3.
Distinguished as the most senior graduate, she donned iconic academic regalia, marched to "Pomp and Circumstance" and received her diploma, earning a bachelor's degree in journalism. As a 21st century student, Doyle earned her degree online, which provided flexibility and accessibility to participate in classes on her own schedule in an environment unbound by geography or time zones.
Doyle bucked the trend. According to a national consumer poll by Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of Ashford University, more than one-third (37 percent) of high school graduates who have not earned a degree have vowed to go back to school "too many times to count."
"It is never too late," Doyle said. "Before attending Ashford, I was just bored at home." While she doesn't consider herself a technology expert, she says she had no problem keeping up. "My neighbor who lives across the hall is a real computer geek who helped me out when I needed it," she said.
Doyle's daughter and other family members were on hand at the commencement ceremony to share in the celebration.
So, what's next for Doyle? "Oh what fun," she said. "Looking for a job at age 77 will be quite a feat. That said, I would like to start a column for and about the 'young at heart' online. We seniors need an outlet to be heard."
Dr. Alice Vestergaard, who specializes in the study of aging, said, "Doyle's degree pursuit provided some of the best 'brain candy' imaginable and serves as an example that we are never too old to learn. By pursuing a degree at an older age, she actually grew new neurons -- brain cells."
"Regular class attendance gave her brain a 'neurobics' workout. This, coupled with the social interaction she received in the online classroom, provided additional opportunity for neuron stimulation and growth. Being exposed to new concepts and ideas, then applying the information in class discussions and assignments actively fired up her brain cells. Learning is considered a brain health-promoting endeavor."
About Ashford University
Where heritage meets innovation – that's Ashford University. At Ashford, students discover relevant degree programs, innovative technology, and cherished tradition. Ashford offers associates, bachelor's, and master's online degree programs, while the Clinton, Iowa campus offers bachelor's programs. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit www.ashford.edu, www.facebook.com/ashforduniversity, www.twitter.com/AshfordU, or call Shari Winet, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.