At 87, Liberty’s oldest graduate is ready for her next adventure

By Tobi Walsh Laukaitis, June 12, 2019

Charles and Pauline Wolcott

Pauline Wolcott, 87, isn’t slowing down. She walked across the stage to receive her B.S. in Religion at Liberty University’s 46th Commencement and celebrated earning her first college degree.

“I never set out to do this to prove that even at my age you can return to school,” Wolcott said. “But I have three daughters who are all mothers now and busy raising their families. I hope that it encourages them that it’s not over or too late to do something. I hope that this encourages anyone.”

After high school, Wolcott was enrolled at Texas Christian University. But during her junior year, she dropped out to get married and start a family. She then began an extensive career path as a professional book reviewer.

When her husband died several years ago, Wolcott’s family encouraged her to connect with others who were widowed and to meet new people.

“I didn’t mind being alone, but my daughters didn’t feel like I was doing the same things that I used to enjoy,” Wolcott said. “I wasn’t going to the opera or the symphony like I used to.”

She decided to join, where she met her current husband, Charles. Wolcott said he was the first person who encouraged her to consider going back to school.

“He told me that I had ‘unfinished business,’” she said. “I began looking at online schools and picked the top five or six to look into.”

When she made a phone call to Liberty, Wolcott spoke to an advisor named Jeff who answered her questions and was an encouragement to her during the application process.

“He was so gracious and didn’t try to bend me in a certain direction,” Wolcott said.

Wolcott was unsure of what she wanted to study at Liberty, so Jeff asked her what she found interesting.

“I told him that I liked history, literature, and philosophy,” she said. “He said, ‘Well, what about religious studies?’ So that’s what I decided on. Religion has always been a part of my life, and I loved taking classes through the School of Divinity. I loved learning about religious leaders, people, and philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.”

She joked that at her age she knew she wasn’t going to use her degree to start a new career. For her, it was about going back to school to strengthen her mind.

“I have been a lifelong learner and have loved learning,” she said. “I want to use my knowledge to not lecture people (about God), but indicate what God and the study of His Word has done for me.”

She said she is blessed to have a husband who encouraged her to continue her education. The couple traveled from Fort Worth, Texas, to make sure Wolcott could take part in the graduation festivities on campus.

“Now that we married later in life, we just want to enjoy things and travel more,” she said. “Being able to come to Lynchburg to participate in Commencement is just another adventure, and I’m happy we got to do it together.” 

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