Violet Edwards became the oldest Black woman to graduate from college in the United States at 96 years old on June 25.
The Jamaican-born woman achieved the record-breaking spot after receiving her associate’s degree from Mercy College in New York, as reported by local 10. She finished school with an impressive 4.0 GPA while simultaneously battling breast cancer.
Edwards’s priorities were centered around her desire for education; Initially attending back in the 1990s, her appetite for learning was muted by her willingness to help her daughter get through medical school. Supporting her child in opening her private practice and raising her grandkids, the eagerness to reach higher education never left the south Floridian resident. After ensuring her daughter was set in her career, the matriarch finally switched to pursuing her dreams of graduating from college before 100 years of age.
Attempting to return to her original school, College of New Rochelle, she learned it was closed. She expanded her search outward; finally, she enrolled in the online school of Mercy College and set to work on getting her degree – transferring what records she could from her old school.
In her final year, Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer; however, she pushed on, got surgery, and began radiation therapy in 2022. She had her final round of treatment just last week while maintaining excellent grades until her graduation ceremony.
“There was […] a party to celebrate her at the Aston Gardens retirement home in Parkland where she lives.” Local 10 reported. In addition, being originally from Jamaica but moving to the US in 1973, the academic scholar was given a proclamation from the Jamaican Consulate General for her 4.0 academic achievement through adversity.
The JCG’s primary mission is “to promote and safeguard the interests of Jamaica and its nationals in the thirty-three (33) States in the United States of America which fall under its jurisdiction, as well as the territories of Puerto Rico and Bermuda. The Consulate General remains committed to deepening its partnership with the Jamaican Diaspora and to providing our Diaspora with opportunities to optimize their contribution to [..] sustainable development.