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Published on June 19, 2024
At 105, Virginia Hislop Receives Her Stanford Master's Degree 83 Years Post CompletionSource: Stanford University / Charles Russo

The Stanford Graduate School of Education witnessed a heartwarming moment during its commencement exercises when 105-year-old Virginia "Ginger" Hislop was conferred with a Master’s degree in education, 83 years after earning it. Hislop, who began her journey at Stanford in 1936, had completed her coursework but left the institution before submitting her final thesis due to World War II exigencies, yet her dedication to education never waned throughout her life. "My goodness, I've waited a long time," Hislop expressed, as chronicled by NBC Bay Area.

Hislop found her first advocacy battle when her daughter, Anne, began first grade. She argued for Anne's placement in an advanced English class instead of the suggested home economics course—a small act that set the stage for her lifelong commitment to empowerment through education. It was a journey that included serving on school boards and aiding in the foundation of higher education institutions, such as Heritage University.

According to a statement from Stanford's Graduate School of Education News, "I felt that all the kids should have an opportunity to develop their potential as best they could, and that everybody should have a crack at higher education if they wanted," Hislop said. Her recognition at this year's commencement was a testament not just to a personal milestone but to a lifetime spent enhancing educational opportunities for countless others. Hislop's legacy is intertwined with the institution of Stanford, which her mother attended in the 1920s, and two of her family members are also alumni. GSE Dean Daniel Schwartz, during the commencement ceremony, extolled her as having "led a life of tremendous educational accomplishment", as reported by Stanford's Graduate School of Education News.

Despite the decades that have passed since she first enrolled, Hislop has never ceased to pursue knowledge and growth. Her son-in-law, Doug Jensen, described her as a "voracious reader" who remains engaged and dynamic at 105. "The biggest lesson I’ve taken from her is that you never really stop learning," he said, as per Stanford's Graduate School of Education News. This enduring philosophy embodies the principle of lifelong learning, Hislop’s unwavering force throughout her enduring career.

At the ceremony, accolades took physical form as Virginia Hislop, adorned in a cap and gown, made her way across the stage to a standing ovation. While she may have graduated from Stanford decades after her contemporaries, her influence in education has spanned a lifetime—solidified now with the recognition of a degree long overdue. Her story, captured by NBC Bay Area, serves as a profound reminder that the paths we tread are never truly closed and that perhaps the echoes of our actions resound far longer than the steps themselves.