By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
At 15 years of age, Dorothy Armstrong met the love of her life. Finishing school was the last thing on her mind. At 76 years old, Armstrong fulfilled a promise she made to her mother many years ago – she earned her diploma in the form of a GED via the Colvin Adult Learning Center.
“To tell you the truth, I ran off and got married at 15, and it broke my mother’s heart because she wanted me to finish school,” Armstrong said. “But, I met him, and I forgot all about school. I promised her that someday I would try to go back.”
In November of 2007, after 58 years of a very happy marriage, Armstrong’s husband passed away. She knew she had to find something to do with her time.
“After my husband died, I had a lot of time on my hands,” she said. “My family kept saying, why don’t you try. So, I thought well, I will try. I went up to the Colvin Center and from there, I went to school. I started in September and finished in May.”
Prior to her marriage 61 years ago, Armstrong did enjoy going to school and gaining knowledge. However, marriage and then a family came along. She was very fulfilled with her life, but the promise she once made to her mother was always tucked in the back of her mind.
“I have four boys, that kept me pretty busy,” she said with a smile. “All my boys graduated from here and a lot of my grandkids did, too.”
Armstrong was amazed at the changes the education process has seen since her days in the classroom 61 years ago.
“What gets me is, they have computers and calculators, and they don’t realize that a good education is the only way they are going to get ahead,” she said. “When my mother was in school, it was just to the eighth grade. When I was in school, it was high school. Now it is college and even beyond that to get a good job.”
Armstrong’s love of literature made her experience at Colvin Learning Center enjoyable. However, she said, mathematics was an entirely different story.
“I have always loved to read so all of the subjects, except for math, were easy,” she said. “That math was a pain in the neck if you really want to know the truth of the matter. But, they have a couple of ladies up there, one especially, she was teaching math and helping us. That seems to be the hardest subject for everybody. She is an excellent teacher, her name is Stephanie Christie. She is the director of the Colvin Center. She took me in hand and I passed it.
“Those people are marvelous,” she added. “They are really nice. They are very helpful.”
With a diploma in hand, Armstrong plans to do much more than simply hang it on her wall. What’s next? Seward County Community College/Area Technical School.
“I’m too old to go out and do anything, but I am going to go out to the college, computers have always scared me to death,” she said. “So, I am going to go from there and master that. I like to write. So, if I can figure out the computers, I may take some creative writing or something.
“I am going to steer away from that math, though,” she said with a chuckle.
Armstrong is proud of her accomplishment. She feels a diploma is an important thing for anyone to have and encourages any age person in her shoes to go out and get an education.
“Now I have a diploma and it is amazing,” she said. “I never thought I would be able to do it. You would be surprised at how much you forget, it had been 61 years since I had been to school.
“If at my age, I can do it, maybe the younger ones will think about going back to do it,” she continued. “There are a lot of single mothers out there that need a good job. There were some of them up there that were trying to get their diplomas to go on from there. I had a lot of fun. It gave me a purpose to get up of a morning, something constructive to do.”
As far as her future at SCCC/ATS, Armstrong just wants to enjoy the ride. And age, she said, is just a number.
“I don’t know how far I will get, but it will pass my time,” she said. “Why sit in my recliner and get old?”