Florida International University

‘You're Never Too Old': 85-Year-Old Woman to Graduate From FIU

Arlyne Frankel is crossing off something that had been on her to-do list for 61 years

NBC Universal, Inc.

Meet Florida International University’s newest graduate.

At 85 years young, Arlyne Frankel is crossing off something that had been on her to-do list for 61 years: finishing her bachelor’s and receiving her degree. On Tuesday, Frankel is getting her well-deserved diploma after five years of classes.

“When I went to college originally, I had pencils and ballpoint pens, and a Royal typewriter," Frankel recalled. "That’s it, and I didn’t have anything else, but now it’s like a whole new world."

It’s an inspiring story and a reminder to never give up on your dreams.

Frankel is a mother and grandmother. In fact, she was a college student at the same time as some of her grandchildren.

Frankel first attended Boston University at 18 and never finished her four years before venturing off to different job opportunities.

After retiring at 79, Frankel decided she was ready to return to school.

“I was a young girl, all sheltered, didn’t know what life was about, didn’t know how to interact with people, and I didn’t know what the world was like," Frankel said. "When you go back at 80, you know, you’ve been through life, you know how to survive, you know what to do, you know how to communicate."

At 80, Frankel also found out she had a learning disability that had prevented her from doing well decades before. It was a turning point.

It took Frankel five years to complete the rest of her degree as she paced herself with a course at a time and summers off.

“Do it, do it, just do it. Don’t put your mind in it, just do it, if you have something in your heart and you think, ‘Oh I’m too old,' you’re never too old," Frankel encouraged.

Frankel says she doesn’t plan on putting her degree to use in the job force but rather wanted it for the enrichment, fun, and the promise to herself 61 years ago.

On Tuesday, Frankel graduates with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences and Education.

Contact Us