Maryland woman earns college degree day after her 82nd birthday

A Maryland woman had a big week. On Tuesday, she celebrated her 82nd birthday. The next night, she earned a college diploma.

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Mae A. Beale walked across the stage for her graduation from the University of Maryland Global Campus, WJLA-TV reported. Beale, a native of Washington, D.C., who has lived in Columbia for more than four decades, received a bachelor’s degree in business management to help her event planning business.

“I’m feeling excited, happy, energized,” Beale told WRC-TV. “All the positive things you can say when you have accomplished a mission.”

Mission accomplished.

Beale has been active and an activist in Maryland for nearly 50 years. In March 2016, she was inducted into the Howard County Women’s Hall of Fame and received the Associated Black Charities’ 2016 Women on the Move Award six months later, The Baltimore Sun reported in a March 3, 2016, profile.

In 2012 she was awarded the Howard County Lifetime Achievement Award, and that same year she was a volunteer in Howard County for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, The Sun reported in 2012.

By the time she returned to school in her late 70s, Beale had already been a licensed practical nurse for several years, WJLA reported.

While she was working at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Beale decided to go into business and event planning.

“My supervisors thought I had something special,” Beale told WJLA. “When I was working at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, I organized some large events and everybody was impressed with it, so I started coordinating their IT information conferences.”

In 1994, Beale established her own event planning business, In Grand Style, and began working toward her associate degree in business management at Howard Community College, the television station reported.

Beale decided to enroll at UMGC and work toward a bachelor’s degree, taking things slowly by registering for one class at a time.

“I wanted to make certain I had the time to devote to whichever class I was taking,” Beale told WJLA. “I was like the tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.”

Armed with a degree, Beale said “the sky’s the limit” about what she will do in the future.

“There’s no telling,” Beale told WRC. “Like I say, I’m excited and ready to go.

“You don’t ever, ever let people deter you, because people always want to tell you what to do, how to do, when to do,” Beale told the television station. “But you have to do you.”