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100-Year-Old Earns College Degree

June 1, 2001

MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) _ A 100-year-old Iowa woman received a special birthday present Wednesday _ her college diploma from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Myrtle Thomas taught for nearly 20 years at a time when a high school diploma was all that was needed. She took college courses for her bachelor’s degree in education, including at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. But to get her diploma she would have been required to quit teaching to do 16 weeks of student teaching.

Her daughter, Janice Mart, said her mother always was bothered about never obtaining the degree.

Thomas’ great-grandson, Chad Rotolo, set out to correct the situation. Dean of Education, John Christensen, met with others at the college, and they decided to waive the student-teaching requirement.

Christensen drove 25 miles to the Longview Nursing Home to present Thomas with her degree to say ``thank you″ for dedicating her life to education and to children.

Rotolo then issued Thomas a challenge. He said if she kept working, she might get her masters by age 105.

She chuckled and said ``that would be a stroke of luck.″

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