A septuagenarian who enrolled as a college co-ed at Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) in Bainbridge, Georgia, and capped a successful first semester before her 79th birthday has proven once again that age is just a number.
After a lifetime of caring for her family, 78-year-old Helen Yates King said that pursuing studies in the field of healthcare felt like a natural progression, The Donalsonville News reported.
— Southern Regional (@SRTCedu) May 11, 2021
King, who registered for the Certified Nurse Aide program at SRTC, explained that she had not been in a classroom in 60 years. She is confident, however, that the program will open new avenues for her. “It is time for me now!” she exclaimed.
King passed the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program exam — a rigorous exam that measures competency in nurse aide skills — on her first attempt. She is now listed on the Georgia Nurse Aide Registry and is certified to perform healthcare duties under the supervision of a licensed nurse.
Since Georgia’s senior residents qualify for higher education at little or no cost, King receives a tuition waiver from SRTC and only has to pay for her books and materials. This has inspired King to “continue on and take Practical Nursing classes next.”
‘Not Too Late for Anyone to Start College’
King has been a beacon of hope to many in her class, including nurse aide instructor Ronda Kirkpatrick. Talking about her favorite student, Kirkpatrick said, “She never gave up. She made mistakes like any student, but she never let challenges stop her. Mrs. Helen is proof that it is not too late for anyone to start college.”
Planning to continue with her classes in the fall, King hopes other seniors will consider following their college dreams, even if those dreams seem too distant now. “As a single woman, it is easy to get lonely, but this certainly keeps me occupied and makes me so happy. This has been such an enjoyable new chapter in my life,” she said.