When Ronnese Glover completed her bachelor's degree a few years ago, her mother, Veronica Kirton, told her that she shouldn't stop there. Ms. Kirton urged her daughter to get her master's degree. So, a deal was struck: if Ms. Glover started a master's degree program, Ms. Kirton would start at Citrus College.
A Monrovia resident, Ms. Kirton's lifelong dream was to go to college. In spring 2018, she embarked on her degree pursuit - at the age of 70. Over the course of two years, through persistence and determination, Ms. Kirton fulfilled her dream and graduated from Citrus College in June 2020. At the age of 72, she earned an Associate of Arts for Transfer in sociology.
"I found out that I could do more than I thought I could do," she said.
Ms. Kirton had always wanted to finish college. She started in the 1960s, but, when she began working, she wasn't able to go back and finish. After the deal she made with her daughter, who received her master's degree from California State University, Los Angeles, in spring 2020, Ms. Kirton continued chipping away at her goal.
Ms. Kirton chose to study sociology since she is interested in learning about people and has a passion for children and elderly. At Citrus College, she said she found a great deal of encouragement and support, especially from her instructors, who she said always answered her questions and emails.
"Ms. Kirton's story of completing college later in life proves that it's never too late for someone to accomplish their goals," said Dr. Geraldine M. Perri, superintendent/president of Citrus College. "While Citrus College serves thousands of traditional-age students, this should serve as a reminder that students of all ages are welcome and encouraged to pursue their academic dreams."
Attending college later in life is not uncommon at Citrus College. Nearly 500 students over the age of 50 - or roughly 2% of the student body - attended Citrus College during the 2019-2020 academic year.
The dream for Ms. Kirton and Ms. Glover was to have a joint graduation party and attend each other's commencement ceremonies. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they couldn't take part in a traditional celebration this year.
Nevertheless, Ms. Glover said she and her mother celebrated by shopping for diploma frames together and placing Class of 2020 graduation signs into Ms. Kirton's front yard.
"On behalf of the board, I commend Ms. Kirton for her incredible accomplishment," said Dr. Patricia A. Rasmussen, president of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees. "With hard work, determination and a vision, anything is possible. I hope others are inspired by her story to follow through on their dreams."
Reflecting on her experience at Citrus College, Ms. Kirton said she hopes her story will serve as encouragement for people mulling college later in life. She said it's important to get out of the "I can't do it" mindset.
Not surprisingly, Ms. Kirton's inspiration has continued beyond her own graduation - her daughter started applying to Ph.D. programs.