Woman finally receives SJSU degree at age 93


At the age of 93, Olive Chandler has finally earned her bachelor's degree from San Jose State, but it's a degree that has been 72 years in the making.

The balloons are up and Chandler is a bit giddy, since she'll soon be celebrating her graduation. It's something her youngest daughter Donna has been trying to help her mother finally accomplish after all these years.

"I just had always felt that it was something that she wanted, something that she had earned," said Donna Chandler.

The bachelor's degree, issued by San Jose State University, was granted after her daughter contacted the university. She was hoping they might send a nice letter to her mother recognizing how close she came to graduating in 1959. Instead, the school sent her a degree. She received the degree three weeks ago.

When we showed her an old yearbook, Olive pointed to a picture of a young woman and said, "That's me when I graduated from Compton Junior College in 1940."

Back in 1940, the plan was to continue her schooling and earn a teaching degree, but events kept delaying that plan -- events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Yeah, and I got married and left school, after a year and a half at Santa Barbara State," said Olive.

She eventually returned to school and continued taking classes even as she raised her five children, but she never collected a bachelor's degree until now. It's pretty big deal for someone who has always encouraged her children, especially her daughters, to get an education.

"You educate a man, you educate an individual. You educate a woman, you educate a family. And that's what I feel like," said Olive.

The degree is backdated to August of 1959 and it's in home economics -- a discipline that doesn't exist at San Jose State anymore. However, when people at what is now the Food Sciences Department did some digging, they realized she had earned enough credits, so they granted the degree.

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