Ella Washington, an extraordinary 89-year-old woman born in rural North Carolina, has achieved remarkable accomplishments throughout her life. Juggling the responsibilities of raising 12 children while working full-time, she dedicated herself to providing for her family and ensuring their education. Unfortunately, her own pursuit of education had to be postponed.
However, a few years ago, Washington decided to embark on a transformative journey by enrolling at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. This decision marked a significant turning point in her life, and on a joyous Saturday, she proudly walked across the graduation stage, receiving her well-deserved associate degree in interdisciplinary studies, according to Liberty University.
Washington's educational journey was far from conventional. In her youth, she had to leave school during the sixth grade to contribute to the family farm. Later, as she began her own family, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she held various jobs, including working as a custodian at the Pentagon and a certified nursing assistant at an adult daycare. Washington tirelessly worked throughout her life and only retired about six years ago.
Reflecting on her mother's experiences, Washington's daughter, Ellen Mitchell, shared the challenges they faced as a poorly educated black woman seeking opportunities in Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, Washington's unwavering dedication ensured her children's well-being. Mitchell expressed her admiration, stating, "She worked hard doing whatever she could to make sure we were taken care of."
Throughout her life, Washington remained a lifelong learner, instilling the importance of education within her family. Mitchell remarked that Washington's desire for knowledge and pursuit of education became a cherished family tradition, passed down through generations. Even before her children began school, Washington taught them to read, write, and do math, just as her grandmother had taught her.
At the age of 49, Washington seized the opportunity to focus on her own education and enrolled in an adult education program, successfully obtaining her GED diploma in 1978. Thirty-four years later, at the age of 83, her daughter encouraged her to enroll in college and pursue her lifelong learning goals. In 2012, Washington embraced the chance and enrolled at Liberty University.
Washington spoke highly of her experience at Liberty University, describing it as a remarkable institution. "I would recommend Liberty to anyone because I did well," she expressed with pride. Although she had completed her associate's degree, Washington's thirst for knowledge remained unquenched. Determined to expand her academic horizons, she eagerly pursued her studies and is currently working towards her bachelor's degree at the university, with a focus on history.