American Teresa Lyles realized her dream at the age of 68. She walked to it for four years and went on stage with her granddaughter to get her diploma.
The grandmother and granddaughter both graduated at the same time from University College in Tennessee. Teresa Lyles is 68 and her granddaughter Zuri is 22. Teresa has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Zuri has a bachelor’s degree in medical management.
“I had already gone to this university when I was young, but I left it in 1970 because I needed to help support my family,” Teresa recalls.
While the grandmother and granddaughter were in college, disaster struck the family: Teresa’s middle daughter, Zuri’s mother, died. “It shook us so much that I almost quit studying and my grandmother went through a depression,” Zuri recalls. “But we continued to support each other. Despite our worries, we tried to do all the assignments and not miss lectures.”
“I always wanted to finish college, but I never had the opportunity to do it. I didn’t even think I could,” Teresa said. “I’m glad I did it with my granddaughter. We supported each other. It was hard, but we had to go through with it.”
Zuri plans to attend graduate school. Teresa will continue to help raise her grandchildren, but is excited to have earned her bachelor’s degree.
The University of Tennessee is more than 100 years old, and this is the first time a grandmother and granddaughter have graduated here at the same time.