Grandmother uses pandemic downtime to get liberal arts degree

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Never say never!

A 71-year-old Pennsylvania grandmother fulfilled a life-long dream during the pandemic, graduating with high honors with a liberal arts degree from a local college Friday.

Maryann Wickemeyer of Bethlehem was one of 400 graduates from DeSales University to receive her degree during a ceremony in Allentown, which was livestreamed on YouTube, according to The Associated Press.

Maryann Wickemeyer posing for her first ever selfie at her commencement ceremony.
Maryann Wickemeyer posing for her first ever selfie at her commencement ceremony.
Provided by Maryann Wickemeyer

Wickemeyer said that she had always been too busy working and raising her three sons and six grandchildren to pursue higher education, and worked on her degree in philosophy and theology to “enrich” herself, spending most of the last year in lockdown working on her studies.

“I just used to tell people, ‘If only I had that degree, like the scarecrow from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ If only I had a degree, I’d be smart,’” she told the AP. “And I’d always joke about it like, ‘I just need that sheet of paper, and then I’ll know I have a brain.’”

After she retired from working in the legal department of a local electronics company, she took a part-time job and decided to focus on her studies, she said. Her sons encouraged her, and were present at the graduation ceremony, she said.

“I was doing it just to enrich myself, to just make me a better version of myself,” she said. “It was a drive to just learn — to enjoy learning and find the things that interested me and learning more about different topics. It was just a lot of good things that made me feel better about myself.”

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