Valley woman earns college degree at 80, plans to continue education

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ga — One Valley woman is not only proving that age is irrelevant, but that any of us are capable of achieving our long-term personal goals.  At 80 years old, Orenza London just graduated with her four year college degree. But she’s just getting started.

If you spend a few minutes around Ms. London, you can’t help but feel inspired.

“I don’t think I’ll ever allow my mind to stagnate,” says Ms. London.

She’s the mother of four sons, grandmother to 13 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, and she quietly finished her degree in theology in December.  To say her family is proud of her is an understatement.

“My granddaughter, Katessa, was just blown away,” says Ms. London.

“She texted me and she said, ‘Oh, by the way, I finished my degree.’ And I was floored,” says Katessa Hammonds, Ms. London’s granddaughter. “She wasn’t thinking about herself. She was just thinking about my uncle, which is her son, who had just recently passed.”

Now that she’s a new graduate, she isn’t heading on vacation, either.  Instead, she’s continuing work that inspired her to get her degree in the first place.

“I minister at the jail three times a week to make the young girls know what they should do and how to maintain themselves and that they have to have a goal,” says Ms. London.

As for her thoughts on age . . .

“You’re only as old as you feel. I don’t feel old. And if anybody would tell me, ‘You don’t act 80. . ,’” says Ms. London.  “How am I supposed to act? I only do things that are conducive to good living and that’s all I do.”

In addition, she says she is convinced we are all capable of meeting our goals.

“I’m no different from anybody else. I like to smell the roses, too. But you can’t smell the roses until you pick them, so go pick them first,” says Ms. London.

As she continues her ministry, Ms. London also plans to continue her education.  She plans to pursue her master’s degree and write a book.

Her official graduation ceremony will take place in May, at which time she plans to walk with her graduating class.  Her degree is from the Apex School of Theology.

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