Tech's oldest graduate shares the secret to her success - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Tech's oldest graduate on record shares the secret to her success

Elleta Nolte and her granddaughter Rebecca Eaton graduated from Texas Tech together in 2008. Elleta Nolte and her granddaughter Rebecca Eaton graduated from Texas Tech together in 2008.
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

At 71-years-old, she enrolled at Texas Tech University, and 18 short years later she graduated with a degree in general studies at 89.

Now 92-years-old Elleta Nolte has finished writing "Indeed You Can," a nonfiction book full of humor and motivational reminders that it's never too late to accomplish your goals.

"I thought, why not? My children were up and gone… at last," Elleta laughed. She writes in her book that "conveniently in 1990, Texas Tech University dangled a tantalizing carrot in front of would-be older students."

Tech announced their Senior Academy program where anyone over the age of 55 could enroll automatically, and that's just what Elleta did.

"My daughters took me and were like, okay mom here's the classroom, here is the restroom, you wait for the bus here," she laughed. "They took me shopping for new jeans, sneakers, and shirts, so I was all primed up."

Although a senior citizen, Elleta headed off to Texas Tech's campus a freshman for her very first day of college classes.

"I got lost, but when I finally found my English class I walked in and somebody said are you the instructor?" she said. "I laughed and said, 'No, I'm a freshman."

Over the next 18 years, with a five year break in between, Elleta joined her fellow Red Raiders on campus, youthful as ever.

"With the students, I fit right in. Every now and then there'd be funny little quips like … What are you going to be when you grow up?" she laughed. "My electronic instructor wrote me a note saying, I never thought I've have a student older than radio."

Like many students, she had her ups and downs with the college life.

"I bombed my first test, but I ended up making a good grade in the English class," she said. "It was not difficult for me at all to study for classes, except for Spanish… we won't go in to that."

To celebrate her finishing Spanish, her family wore shirts that read in English and Spanish "My grandmother passed Spanish at Texas Tech University".

After toting the textbooks back and forth to class, Elleta graduated from Tech in 2008 alongside her granddaughter Rebecca.

"Whenever we were told to flip our tassels, I thought, I've graduated! I just felt like jumping up and clicking my heels together and saying,'Yes!'"

With 71 years between her high school graduation and her college graduation, Elleta had finally finished a life goal.

"I'd like to get a master's degree in gerontology, the science of aging, because I've had experience in that," she joked.

On a serious note, Elleta hopes her book will inspire many, regardless of their age.

"The reason I wrote it, I wanted to tell you what you can do. Age doesn't matter, it really doesn't. It's motivation and curiosity that will get you there," said Elleta.

Her book "Indeed You Can" can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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