Not Into Bingo, 84-Year-Old Texas Woman Gets College Degree - NBC Chicago
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Not Into Bingo, 84-Year-Old Texas Woman Gets College Degree

Janet Fein took part in a state program that allows people ages 65 and older to take up to six credit hours for free at public universities in Texas

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Under the Tucson Sun
    AP Photo/LM Otero
    In this Dec. 10, 2018 photo, Janet Fein, 84, poses for a photo in Richardson, Texas. Fein completed her bachelor's degree and will graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas with the winter undergraduate class.

    After raising five kids and retiring at age 77 from her secretarial job, Janet Fein couldn't be blamed for finally relaxing, but that's not her.

    Fein, now 84, went to back to school and will accomplish a long-held goal this week when she graduates from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor's degree.

    "I didn't have anything to do in retirement and I didn't think that playing bingo was up to my speed," said Fein, who majored in sociology because she felt it was "substantial."

    She said she enjoyed all the reading and writing papers. "With each class I already knew a lot, but then I also learned a lot. And that made me happy," she said.

    Women’s March Draws Large Numbers in DC

    [NATL] Women’s March Draws Large Numbers in DC

    Thousands of people turned up for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Organizers this year had estimated half a million people could attend but the turnout was expected to be much lower.

    (Published Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019)

    People 65 and older make up less than one percent of U.S. college students. In 2015, they accounted for about 67,000 of about 20 million college students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

    "Keeping oneself active and vital and giving yourself something to look forward to like that is just a really positive move," said Dr. Carmel Dyer, executive director of the UTHealth Consortium on Aging at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

    Fein took part in a state program that allows people ages 65 and older to take up to six credit hours for free at public universities in Texas. About 2,000 people took advantage of the offer last year, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

    Mexico Pipeline Explosion Kills Dozens

    [NATL] Mexico Pipeline Explosion Kills Dozens

    A fireball erupted at the site of a fuel pipeline leak after it appeared to be ruptured by thieves.

    (Published Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019)

    Fein said she wanted the degree "with all of my heart" and kept going to classes even as she transitioned from living on her own and driving herself around to needing a walker and oxygen and eventually moving to a senior living facility. Then her knees gave out, so she did a semester of independent study and took online classes to fulfill her degree requirements.

    "She did not give up in the midst of her challenges ... she just kept plugging along," said Fein's college adviser, Sheila Rollerson.

    Tracy Glass, 40, befriended Fein after they both took front-row seats in a class.

    Avalanche Buries Unknown Number of People in NM

    [NATL] Avalanche Buries Unknown Number of People in NM

    Ski Patrol and first responders are working to rescue an unknown number of skiers buried in an avalanche at Taos Ski Resort in New Mexico

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019)

    "I sat right next to her and over the course of the semester built a fast friendship with her," said Glass, who said Fein's firsthand memories of world events -- like the women's movement -- enlivened discussions.

    Carol Cirulli Lanham, a senior lecturer in sociology, said, "She would speak up a lot in class and I think that it just made for a more interesting class ... because she literally remembered some of the times we were talking about."

    Fein, who grew up in the Bronx in New York City, said that in high school she just wanted to graduate and get a job. After graduating early -- at the age of 16 -- she went to work as a secretary at a dress manufacturer. She married, spent 18 years staying home with her children and worked several jobs over the decades, including a 20-year stint as a secretary at a Dallas orthopedic hospital -- the job she retired from in 2012. She also worked on her associate degree for two decades before earning it in 1995.

    Iowa Man Gets "Jackpot Treatment" for $1 Lotto Ticket Win

    [NATL] Iowa Man Gets "Jackpot Treatment" for $1 Lotto Ticket Win

    An Iowa man got the "Jackpot treatment" after winning $1 off a scratch-off lotto ticket. Tyler Heep decided to cash in the winning ticket at the Iowa Lottery Headquarters and was presented with a big check for his win. Heep spent his winnings on a gallon of gas.

    (Published Friday, Jan. 18, 2019)

    Renee Brown, a certified nursing assistant who is one of Fein's caregivers, said Fein has inspired her. At 53, she plans to enroll in a program to become a licensed vocational nurse.

    "She said, 'Renee, you can do it. If I can do it you can do it and you will feel so good about it,'" Brown said.