You’re Never Too Old to Receive a College Degree.

I grew up in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Right on Lake Michigan. My parents met at UW Stevens Point and always talked about college. They had four kids. Mom always regretted the fact that she didn't finish college and that she never got a degree.

Alexa Posny | Stevens Point, WI

When I was a kid, she was such an avid reader that I started going to the library when I was four. My mom reads at least five different books every week and that’s the way we were all raised.  

Mom had a lot of different jobs. That’s just the way it was during the depression, you do what you can do. She graduated high school and paid for her first year of college. When her brother went off to war, she had to leave school so she could go back to work and bring in money to survive. She worked as a secretary, as a paraeducator, she even worked for the air force at one time. She always got paid minimum wage, which at the most was 90 cents an hour. My mom’s parents didn’t have enough to stay in one place; Mom said they must have lived in 20 different homes throughout Stevens Point. 

Both of my parents were involved with our education. In the fifties and sixties, going to college was not something a lot of kids did. In our house it was assumed automatically we were going to go. There was never a doubt in any of our minds. All four of us went to college, and my mom paid for all of us. We never owed a dime. And it was all based on her working all those jobs. She’s the reason why I ended up in the field of Special Education. She is so understanding and takes the time and patience to help anyone, no matter what. She has done so much and has given so much and never has she expected anything in return.

When my dad died, mom moved to Manitowoc. She can’t drive anymore, and I had to take the keys away from her when she was 90. She’s turned 99 this year. My mom is amazing. She still lives on her own in her own home. In the course of the day she completes several crossword puzzles, reads books and is an avid Green Bay Packer, Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks fan. Covid has been hard for her, she hasn’t gone anywhere because she wants to be safe. So, we wanted to do something special for her this year. During a conversation I had with Bernie Patterson, the Chancellor of UW Stevens Point, he personally checked and determined that she had enough credits to earn a degree. And that was what started the whole ball rolling.

My mom received her well-earned yet long overdue college degree last month on her front porch. Because of the pandemic she couldn’t go to Stevens Point to get it, so they drove to her to do the ceremony. A car parade just kind of blossomed. The car parade included my brother and his wife, some grandchildren and great grandchildren. The rest of the family got to watch the whole thing online. People from Grace Congregational Church and the Manitowoc police force were part of this. There were probably about 25 or 30 people and everybody had on a mask. I only told her about it a minute before the police siren came on. I put on her cap and the tassels. All I told her was “mom, this is for you.” She smiled through the whole thing. She couldn’t believe it. During the parade she told me “I didn’t deserve this.” And I said, “mom, you earned it, you earned it”.

Alexa’s story is part of Love Wisconsin’s Covid-19 series. Through this series we are featuring shorter stories to offer a  time capsule into life in Wisconsin during this extraordinary time.

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