An 80-year old woman graduated from Alabama A&M University Friday, spreading her story of inspiration.

Donzella Washington was on a quest to accomplish a lifelong goal and wants to inspire others to never stop setting and working to achieve their own goals.


This isn’t the end of her journey in higher education.

“When I began this journey it was just because I wanted to go back to school, it was something I wanted to accomplish,” Washington said. “So at this moment it’s just overwhelming you know, the attention.”

Washington isn’t graduating with her bachelor’s degree at 80 years old for the attention.

“Learning is just really fun,” she said.

After moving to Fultondale to be with her daughter after her husband died, Washington set her eye on a social work degree, got a scholarship, and didn’t look back.


“I want to inspire young people and even adults, to let them know that age, because I’m 80, but I don’t know what 80 really feels like,” said Washington. “It’s never too late. You have a dream, please finish that dream. You can do it. You just have to believe in yourself.”

“She is such a great example of commitment and strength and perseverance and dedication and compassion and passion, she exhibits all that,” said Washington’s daughter Kimberly Washington. “That’s what I learned most is to really show love and appreciation, and have fun with those that you love the most. So I’m just glad that she’s reached her goal and has let me experience this time with her.”



Washington knew she could do it. In her thirties she took speech classes at a college to overcome severe stuttering.. she did so well she signed up for more classes.

But even now her journey in higher education isn’t over.

“I feel like with the help of God who has brought me this far, that I will be able to accomplish and obtain my master’s degree,” she said.

Washington graduated magna cum laude and plans to volunteer in places like nursing homes. She and her husband have also fostered around 30 children.

Washington now wants to inspire others with the message that it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.




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