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SCOTT SIMON, host:

It's commencement season. And like hundreds of other colleges, Fort Hays State University will hand out diplomas next week. But Fort Hays has a unique added attraction - the world's oldest college graduate.

Nola Ochs is 95. She finished high school in 1929 but didn't start college until almost 50 years later. She's been in school off and on ever since. Nola Ochs joins us by phone from her apartment on campus in Hays, Kansas.

Ms. Ochs, congratulations.

Ms. NOLA OCHS (Graduate, Fort Hays State University): Thank you very kindly.

SIMON: What made you decide to start college in 1978?

Ms. OCHS: My husband was deceased, and we were on the farm, I wanted to get outside and do something interesting. I took a tennis class advertised in the Dodge City Community College flyer and I attended that tennis class.

SIMON: A tennis class?

Ms. OCHS: Yeah. But I had a good time on the campus and enjoyed myself. Coming on the campus just gives me a little enthusiasm. And so that fall, I enrolled in an agribusiness marketing class.

SIMON: So what are some of the other classes you've had over the years?

Ms. OCHS: I've taken lot of history classes, civilization classes, composition classes and public speaking, computer classes.

SIMON: Do you have a laptop?

Ms. OCHS: Oh, yes. Mm-hmm. And I can use it.

SIMON: You write your papers on that?

Ms. OCHS: I've written a hundred papers since I came up here in school.

SIMON: What are some of your favorite papers that you've written over the years?

Ms. OCHS: I've just now one finished one on Jefferson that I thoroughly enjoyed writing.

SIMON: When you've been in a history class over the years, have students turned to you and said, what was it like to hear Franklin Delano Roosevelt speak over the radio?

Ms. OCHS: That has happened to me. It surely has.

SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. OCHS: And it has revived my memories of those times, you know, and they enjoyed listening to me.

SIMON: You've made friends over the years?

Ms. OCHS: Very many. Hays, Kansas, I've just been up here a year but I'm known far and wide up here at Hays.

SIMON: I understand that you have a granddaughter who's going to graduate with you.

Ms. OCHS: That is true. Yes. And we will walk across the stage together.

SIMON: Oh, my gosh.

Ms. OCHS: Isn't it wonderful?

SIMON: It is wonderful.

Ms. OCHS: Yes.

SIMON: It's - and so what's your degree, I may ask?

Ms. OCHS: It's a bachelor's degree in general subjects with a major in history.

SIMON: Ms. Ochs?

Ms. OCHS: Yes?

SIMON: What are you going to do with your degree?

Ms. OCHS: I am going to seek employment as a storyteller on a cruise ship going around the world.

SIMON: Oh, what a wonderful idea.

Ms. OCHS: I'm not sure there is such a position.

SIMON: It's been wonderful talking to you, Ms. Ochs.

Ms. OCHS: Thank you and I've enjoyed it too.

SIMON: Nola Ochs who will graduate from Fort Hays State University next Saturday at the age of 95. This is NPR News.

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