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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Woman Graduates from SMU at 85 Years Old


Marillyn Burton Seeberger | Image by Hillsman Stuart Jackson / Southern Methodist University 2022

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Southern Methodist University recently held its graduation ceremony for the class of 2022. While most graduates are between 23 and 32 years old, Marillyn Burton Seeberger graduated at 85.

Seeberger earned her bachelor’s degree in film and media arts from Southern Methodist University 68 years after graduating from high school in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1954.

Seeberger had planned to go to college right out of high school, but her life took a long detour. On the night of her high school graduation, her then-boyfriend proposed to her, and she accepted. She got married, started a family, and had a career in media and advertising without earning a college degree.

Six years ago, Seeberger started to go to community college at 80 years old. Eventually, she discovered that she had earned enough credits to apply for SMU and pursue a film and media arts degree. Her next goal is to become a screenwriter, something she said she has always wanted to do.

“I felt like I needed credentials,” Seeberger told NBC News. “I felt like if I’m going to put myself out there as a screenwriter, I need to be able to say I’ve been properly trained.”

Seeberger says she “still feels 18 in her head,” and she still plans to pursue her career goals as a screenwriter. Now she says she has the credentials to do exactly that.

Although Seeberger certainly stands out from her fellow students, she is not the oldest person to earn a college degree. In 2020, 96-year-old Giuseppe Paterno graduated from the University of Palermo in Sicily, Italy, at the top of his class.

The Guinness World Record holder for the oldest college graduate belongs to Shigemi Hirata, who graduated from the Kyoto University of Art and Design in Kyoto, Japan, in 2016. He was 96 years and 200 days old at his graduation.

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