74-Year-Old Grandmother Graduates College with Granddaughter

Melody Ormond, 22, alongside her grandmother, Pat Ormond, 74.
Pat Ormond

A 74-year-old grandmother who received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology 42 years after taking her first college class is graduating college beside her granddaughter.

“I always knew that I was going to graduate from college,” said 22-year-old Melody Ormond. “I just never knew that my nana was also going to be there.”

Pat Ormond, whose 75th birthday is this month, took her first college class at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. She dropped out after one semester to move to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Pat spent several decades balancing work as an accountant with motherhood, raising children, including Melody’s father. While Pat took the occasional class at the University of Tennessee- Chattanooga (UTC), she says her family encouraged her to finish her degree — especially after retirement.

She decided to take her family up on the challenge when she learned that her granddaughter, Melody, was transferring to UTC as a sophomore to study psychology.

For Pat and Melody, taking classes at the same time also meant taking classes during a pandemic.

“It’s definitely more difficult, and I prefer in-class,” Pat said. “I really enjoyed the discussions and being able to interact with so many people from different backgrounds. Not having those people around made it harder.”

Pat and Melody graduated as part of UTC’s fall class of 2020 on November 20.

“Learning never stops,” Pat said. “That’s something that my father instilled in me when I was younger. No matter what you do, learning never stops. Even if it’s auditing a few classes, there’s always that option.”

Pat is not the first to finish her bachelor’s degree after a significant amount of time away from the classroom.

Last year, a 91-year-old grandmother also received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama — 73 years later because she wanted to start a family.

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