A great grandmother got the surprise of a lifetime during a Zoom call in December with loved ones to celebrate her 90th birthday.
When Marion Thomas logged into the call, she was surprised with a long-awaited degree from Georgian Court University, the school said in a news release:
In 1998, Mrs. Thomas and her husband, John, were living in Toms River, New Jersey, where they had retired after living in Bergen County. And after a lifetime of encouraging her 6 children and 18 grandchildren to pursue a college degree, Mrs. Thomas began her freshman year at Georgian Court College (now University) at the age of 67. Her grandchildren, many of whom were in school at the same time, even offered her college advice.
She started out full time, and then moved to part time, earning 113 credits over the next decade, until her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She left school to devote herself to caring for her beloved husband, who passed away in 2012.
One of Thomas’s three daughters, Ellen Wilson, said when her father fell ill with the disease, her mom “really just focused on him.”
For the past five years, Thomas has lived at the Hackensack Meridian Rehabilitation Center in Brick, “accepting her health challenges with grace and dignity,” according to Wilson.
Several university officials, including President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D, joined the Zoom call to announce that because of her support for her parish “as well as in business, the university had awarded her the 7 credits she needed to meet degree requirements,” the release said.
Provost Janice Warner, Ph.D. presented Thomas to Marbach as a candidate for a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and he conferred the degree upon her.
“It’s about time!” Thomas replied, which made everyone on the call burst into laughter.
Thomas was invited to participate in the May commencement ceremony along with others who graduated in December.