69-Year-Old Mother of 11 Earns Degree

Most Eligible: Allen Oghenejobo
December 11, 2012
Perfect Timing
December 31, 2012

69-Year-Old Mother of 11 Earns Degree

At 69, Ethel T. Williams Singleton has fulfilled her long-term goal of earning a college degree.

“I got married and had children, so I couldn’t go to college,” said the mother of 11, including four sets of twins.


Singleton, is one of close to 550 graduates who participated in Jackson State University’s fall 2012 commencement on Dec. 8.

Along with raising her own children – who all hold bachelor’s or associate’s degrees – the Raymond, Miss., resident worked for years with children at the Mississippi Department of Human Services’ Oakley Detention Center.


In the late 1980s, Singleton decided to go to college, and earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 1991 from Hinds Community College. After retiring in 2004, she thought about getting a bachelor’s degree, and returned to the classroom in 2010 at Jackson State University.

Despite the age difference, Singleton said she felt comfortable with her fellow students. She especially loved listening to and participating in classroom conversations.

“Some of my classmates were younger than I was, but they treated me just like I was one of them,” she said. “They didn’t treat me like I was old or anything like that. It just felt good.”

During commencement, Singleton marched along with her classmates to receive her college degree.

“I am very proud of myself,” said the grandmother of more than 30. “I can tell my grandchildren, ‘Keep going until you reach your goals.’ If their grandmother can do it, they can do it.”

Singleton is not rushing back into the world of work with her degree in hand.

“I just wanted my degree,” she said. “It’s a milestone that I had always wanted to accomplish.”


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