Hometown Hero: Retired Nurse Gets Her Degree at 84 Years Old

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Many of us have personal goals we may have put off for one reason or another.

Maybe it's work that's gotten in the way, or other obligations, but one Ozarks woman proves it's never too late to achieve a goal even if it takes decades to complete.

Somewhere between the Ms and the Os in the line of recent Cox College nursing graduates stood 84-year-old Leslie Nivens -- with an academic mission.

"I've always wanted to say that I've gotten my degree, just to say that I got it."

While Nivens' nursing career spans more than 30 years, she's never had the paper to prove what she already knew.

"At that time around here...there was no degree connected with nursing."

In 1954, she graduated from the Burge School of Nursing, a training school for nurses back then, now known as Cox College. Now at 84 years old, she finally has the degree that's taken decades to get.

"I have gone and taken classes and courses off and on for all of the 50 some odd years since I graduated."

It's an accomplishment her nursing friends know many in their generation have gone without.

"Times here hard," says Nivens' friend Joyce Wiese. "It was difficult for us all to do that and I admire that she did that."

Wiese says her pal knows the importance of a lifetime of learning.

"I was really proud of her, 'cause you know, that isn't really an easy thing to do at this age."

Nivens even completed her 12-week coursework in just 10 days. Donning a cap and gown, she crossed the stage with her head high.

"My theory in life is if somebody can do it, so can I. I might not be as good as they are, but if they can do it, I'm going to try it."

Words of wisdom from a registered, retired nurse now with a college degree.

More Stories

Don't Miss

Latest News

Video Center