Woman working toward high school diploma at age 89 - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Woman working toward high school diploma at age 89

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A Jonesboro woman is proving that you're never too old to learn.

Gracie Presley turned 89 years old this year and is pursuing the one thing in her life that's always eluded her – a high school diploma.

"I thought all my life I'd like to finish school," she said.

Presley grew up working on her family's farm near Caraway as one of 11 children. Work often interfered with school.

"From the time you were big enough to work, that was what you [did]," she said. "I'm proud of it because it [taught] me how to work."

Presley first started going to school when she was eight years old, but left after the eighth grade to find a job.

"I worked in stores and everything with what education I had, and I made a living," she said.

Presley married at age 17 and worked a countless number of jobs, but her desire to finish school never faded.

"I've been everywhere. I've done everything," she said. "I thought if I had a GED, I might do more."

Presley began pursuing her GED in 2012 at the Valley View Adult Education Center in Jonesboro. She describes her first day walking back into class as "scary" because at age 89, she was by far the oldest there.

"They treat me just like they do the rest of them," she said, smiling.

Presley says going back to school after all these years has been much harder than she expected, but her niece, Cindy Pope, has been there to offer help and encouragement.

"I know she can do it," Pope said about her aunt. "I got faith in the Lord, and I got faith in her."

Presley is unsure right now when she will be able to finally complete the program, but she's vowed not to give up anytime soon.

"Even if I didn't finish, I still think I've learned something, but I am going to finish," she said. "I know that."

Because of her experiences, she has some useful advice to offer young people.

"I'd like to say to the kids to go to school and get their education while they're young if they can."

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