People 2 People

“Such a blessing for me:” Gwinnett County great-grandmother graduates from college

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Janet Lively says she didn’t know what to make of the big bold letters that popped up in the front yard of her Gwinnett County home. It said “Congrats Grad 2020.”

“Where did that come from? I was in total shock. Several of my kids snuck over here at night and put that thing up. That was so sweet!”

She has accomplished a life-long goal and graduated from college this month.

“Going to college is a big deal. I didn’t know if I could do it. But I always wanted to,” Lively told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen.

Lively graduated from high school in 1962. She got married, had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I was raising a family. A modest income didn’t allow for college. Not to mention no time. I enjoyed being a mom,” she said.

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But in 2012 she enrolled at Georgia Gwinnett College majoring in history. She took a few classes at a time, semester after semester.

This semester she was part of the graduating class of 2020 and the virtual commencement. All at the age of 75.

“I think it’s a fantastic achievement,” said Dr. Richard Rawls, one of Lively’s professors. He says she’s as enthusiastic as they come and smart too. Lively graduated summa cum laude with a 3.9 GPA.

“Oh, it’s wonderful. She’s very wonderful to have in class,” Rawls said.

“I have enjoyed every minute of it. Learning, being on campus. I have enjoyed meeting the professors. They are all wonderful,” Lively said. “And being around those students made me feel younger. They accepted me. We were buds and we would hang out. I got so much from it.”

Some of the graduates may have been disappointed that the pandemic prevented a more traditional ceremony in an auditorium, but Lively said all the pomp and circumstance wasn’t that important to her.

“I’m not used to any pomp anyway. Very humble surroundings. I’m used to just going with the flow. Meeting this milestone and having my kids be excited for me is all I need. I’m an emotional person to begin with. Anything that touches me deeply, I tear up about it. Going to school has been such a blessing for me.”

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