Proud Red Raider getting Master's Degree at age 71 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Proud Red Raider getting Master's Degree at age 71

Shirley Kitchens (source: KCBD) Shirley Kitchens (source: KCBD)

Texas Tech is getting ready for graduation Saturday. We spoke with one proud Red Raider who's getting her Master's degree at the age of 71.

Shirley Kitchens decided to get her degree two years ago, and Saturday, she will graduate with a Master's in mathematics.

"I'm a proud Red Raider. I can say that. Absolutely," Kitchens said.

For Shirley Kitchens, being back on the Texas Tech campus is like coming back home.

"It kind of gets the old blood going and the juices going to be back on campus. It gives you a spirit," she said.

Shirley received her undergraduate degree from Tech in 1976, then came back to Tech for her teaching certificate in mathematics in 1985.

But after 22 years of teaching high school students in an early college program in Houston, she decided to take the next step so she could teach at the college level.

"Probably part of their success, I fed off of that and decided to go back and get a masters," Shirley said.

Her two year journey to push herself forward, began.

"We all reach a point where we're ready for a change, or maybe just a different adventure in life. And this was a different step for me," she said.

Taking 36 hours of online courses while still teaching in Houston came with some challenges.

"You're not sure if you'll make it. You're not sure if you'll get all the way through," she said.

But Shirley says she had no doubt, Texas Tech would support her along the way.

"The passion of being here, the respect that Texas Tech University has."

For Shirley, she never wants to stop learning.

"So I couldn't imagine you know ok, I'm a certain age and I'm just going to quit working. I didn't want to be that person," she said.

As she walks across the stage, she's leaving the legacy she always hoped to for her children and grandchildren.

"We know how long that she's been waiting for this. And I think that now that it's come to fruition and she's actually going to accomplish this goal, it is going to be an emotional day. And we're just going to be so proud and be rooting her on," her daughter, Kristy Racz said.

And as a die-hard Red Raider, there's no other place Shirley could imagine making her dream become a reality.

"All of us are in a position where we can offer something to our families, and we can be lifelong learners," Kitchens said.

"You just keep pushing yourself towards your goals and you never give up, no matter how old you are," Racz said.

And Shirley is excited she already has a job lined up to teach math at a Lone Star College in Houston.

She starts August 29th.

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