A Florida woman is sharing her story of wisdom and inspiration after following her dreams of graduating college.
Arlyne Frankel, 85, retired at 79-years-old after working her entire life. She worked as a marketing and fundraising consultant for PBS.
Divorced and single, with children and grandchildren, she took inventory and decided she wanted to accomplish her life-long dreams.
“First, I thought I’d take another job because my original plan was to work until the day I died. Or so I thought. Then I took stock, and decided I wasn’t going back to work. I thought, I’m going to live out my life. And what am I going to do? I want to accomplish my dreams," she told "GMA3."
Her first dream was to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah, a coming of age ceremony in the Jewish religion traditionally celebrated around a child's thirteenth birthday. She was unable to have one as a young girl, and always dreamt of having one. At her Bat Mitzvah, Frankel announced to the crowd that she wanted to accomplish her next dream: graduate college.
Frankel started college for the first time at age 18 at Boston University in 1954, but was unable to finish.
"I quit and stopped at the end of the second year,” she recalled. “I had financial problems among a few other negative things going on. My bad grades didn’t motivate me and I had studying issues.”
When Frankel returned to college later in life, she learned that she had a learning disability, which she believes contributed to her being unmotivated to complete school.
“I had an undiagnosed learning disability, so I just thought I wasn’t very smart. I didn’t have anyone who could identify what was going on with me, so I gave up,” she said. Over the years, Frankel said she didn’t let her lack of college education hold her back and became successful by working hard.
"That feeling of not doing well stayed with me,” she said. “Then I moved to New York and I got a lot of jobs because I’m a hard worker and I had to learn about life. I came from a small town and little by little, I accomplished things. I had to be very brave and believe in myself. I learned through my successes and failures. Every job I had, I learned a little more. I was a very, very hard worker and put in extra time.”
Frankel enrolled in Florida International University at age 80.
"It took me five years to complete the program,” she said.
If you can breathe and think, then it’s not too late.
Her experience was unique because she brought a different perspective to the classroom.
“In the classroom, the professors loved having me because I made the conversation intergenerational. I had views none of the students have because I lived life,” she said. “And that was completely different than a 23-year-old. They got thoughts from me that no one else shared."
Frankel graduated magna cum laude at Florida International University with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. But she’s not done just yet.
“I want to be a motivational speaker,” said Frankel. “Not just about going back to school but people who want to do other things, who say, ‘No, I’m too old.’ I’m here to say, ‘It’s never too late!”
Frankel said that regardless of age, everyone could use a cheerleader in their life.
“I’m a good cheerleader and I love to speak and I think I could be their motivation. If you can breathe and think, then it’s not too late.”