‘Greatest thing you can get’: 97-year-old woman to achieve lifetime goal of getting college degree

Hazel Feldman will walk stage to get honorary Associate of Arts degree from Northeast Lakeview College on May 10

SAN ANTONIO – Hazel Feldman, 97, finally achieved a lifetime goal and earned a college degree from Northeast Lakeview College.

Her academic career started in New Jersey.

“I graduated high school in 1943, just a couple of years ago,” Feldman said jokingly.

Eventually, she started college classes in New Jersey in the 1980s. Her higher education was on hold after she moved to San Antonio to be close to her daughter and to work.

After a 15-year break, she enrolled at Northeast Lakeview College.

“I was doing one course at a time at 97. At that time, I was 94, 95. It’s a little bit hard to take more than one course at a time,” Feldman said with a laugh.

A lot has changed since Feldman was last in college.

“It was a little difficult getting online and doing the course online,” she said.

Feldman said she started to earn college credit thanks to help from her family, friends, and professors. She joked that she was old enough to be her professor’s grandmother.

Even with the help, Feldman worried she might not finish her degree. She asked the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees if life experiences could count as credit toward a degree.

“I’ve done a lot in my life as far as work, and I’ve done a lot of business, lots of sales work, lots of representation,” Feldman said.

The board of trustees accepted the life experiences as credit and awarded her an honorary Associate of Arts degree.

“I think it’s about the greatest thing you can get. Don’t start because I’ll cry,” Feldman told KSAT as she glanced at her daughter mid-sentence.

Feldman is set to walk the stage on May 10.

“By then, I’ll be 97 and a half,” she said.

Feldman had this message for the world.

“If they have a dream, follow it. Go work for it. Take a long time, but they can get it,” she said.

Her message will also be shared with future Northeast Lakeview students. She wrote a letter and put it in a school time capsule that will open in 25 years.

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.