83-Year-Old Woman Graduates from WCSU

By Stephanie O'Connell
|  Monday, May 13, 2013  |  Updated 9:02 AM EDT
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On Sunday, Florence Pinkerton, 83, of Danbury, received a Bachelor's degree in studio art after more than a decade as a co-ed.

On Sunday, Florence Pinkerton, 83, of Danbury, received a Bachelor's degree in studio art after more than a decade as a co-ed.

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Florence Pilkington was just cresting her golden years when she decided to take a computer course at Western Connecticut State University in 1999.

On Sunday, the 83-year-old Danbury woman received a Bachelor's degree in studio art after more than a decade as a co-ed.

"It was one of the greatest things thay happened to me." she said on Sunday.

She said she always loved school.

Pilkington, a widow with two grown children, was raised in Long Island, where she attended high school for a few years.

Then her father became ill and her mother asked Pilkington to leave school, take a few business courses and work to help support the family.

Pilkington took a bookkeeping job and helped her mother with the bills until she married at age 20. Years later, Pilkington worked to earn her Graduate Equivalency Diploma.

Although she didn't return to school until 1999, Pilkington said she took as many adult education courses as she could find and eventually came across a mailing from Western that piqued her interest in learning more about computers.

"I started with a computer class and I wasn't thinking about going back because I just wanted to get an idea of how the computers work," Pinkerton said.

Then she took a summer piano course for fun, followed by the history of music.

"The professor said 'If you continue with music, you have to get up on that stage,'" she recalled. "Well, that's not for me."

So, she went to the art department, where Pilkington found a passion that she could stick with.

Going to college in her 70s and 80s has kept Pilkington young and she said that going to school is her "playtime."

While she is not looking to start a career, Pilkington said she will continue painting in her spare time but what she's really looking forward to is returning to school in the fall.

"After 14 years of going to school, I'll still come back and take courses," she said. "It's knowledge and keeps your brain going."

"Someone like Florence Pilkington, age 83, receiving her Bachelor's degree, shows it's never too late to be a student and you can keep on learning throughout your life,"Jim Schmotter, president of WCSU, said.

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