Grandma will receive a bachelor’s degree from Mercer at 73
Just five days after turning 73, Beverly Kelley will graduate from college.
On May 16, Kelley will receive a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, with a concentration in Leadership and Communication, at a launch ceremony for the College of Career Advancement at Mercer University in Atlanta.
And she hasn’t finished yet.
The grandmother of seven plans to continue her academic career at Mercer, pursuing a Masters of Science in Human Services, so that she can help children in the foster care system. She was drawn to social services after working in the Family and Children’s Services Division and the Henry County Child Support Services Division.
“Seeing so many children entering the reception system, I saw so much and wanted to get involved in social services,” she said.
Kelley attended the Mercer Regional Academic Center in Henry County. She was a student ambassador and worked in the library.
Scott Mahone, director of operations at the center, said Kelley was “an extremely charming and talented researcher”.
“We have had the blessed opportunity to observe his passion and love to learn first-hand,” he said.
Kelley said she felt like part of a family.
“I have always felt comfortable. I felt I could contact them if I had a problem to discuss or family matters, ”she said. “There was always someone here – more than one person – I could just sit and talk with myself to feel comfortable.”
The course was stimulating and informative. Her classes have given her a better understanding of the world around her, she says.
“I learned so much,” she says. “I thought I knew a lot… but I didn’t.”
Kelley now lives in Stockbridge but has spent most of her life in New Jersey.
She briefly attended community college, but after her father died, she gave up to care for her sick mother. Still, she had a 30-year career as a technical support analyst, retiring at the senior level from Lockheed Martin.
Kelley and her husband, Harold Kelley, saw two girls in college. The couple retired and moved to Georgia in 2003. Two years later, and after 40 years of marriage, Harold Kelley passed away.
Suddenly Beverly Kelley needed something to do in this new season of her life.
“I’m not the type to sit at home and do nothing,” she said.
She decided to apply to Mercer.
“I was a little nervous about doing it because at my age – I think I was 69 when I applied to Mercer – I thought all the kids were going to be in class and I was felt a little intimidated, ”she says. “But once I started the class, everything was fine because it wasn’t just young people; they had all the generations in there.
She enjoyed working as a student ambassador, helping her fellow students in the library find books or use computers.
Mahone said Kelley approached each task with “enthusiasm and vigor.”
“At 73, she is a wonderful mentor and inspiration to all of us, and especially to our young adult students,” he said. “She appreciates the opportunities that allow her to support and inspire other adult learners to complete their degree programs.”
Because if she can, so can others.
“I’ll be 75 when I graduate with my masters, God willing,” she said.