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HomeU.S.83-year-old great-grandmother on Harvard course: 'I virtually really feel responsible that I’m...

83-year-old great-grandmother on Harvard course: ‘I virtually really feel responsible that I’m having such a great time’


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Barbara Ingram’s rigorous learning impressed an nameless supporter to fund a billboard in her honor.

People strolling via the gates to Harvard Yard. Charles Krupa / Associated Press

“Walking billboard for lifelong learning” and great-grandmother Barbara Ingram, 83, discovered problem and persevering with training via a distant studying program at Harvard. 

Heading into her fourth semester, Ingram’s efforts garnered an sudden however becoming shock in her neighborhood: a billboard from an nameless supporter: “83 years old and back in college at Harvard,” the black and pink billboard reads, KTVT reported. “Mental wellness for seniors. You’re never too old for knowledge.”

“I got bored… and I decided that I needed to do something mentally to stay busy,” Ingram, of Dallas, Texas, instructed KTVT.

The Harvard Extension School doesn’t normally enroll many octogenarians, in accordance with Harvard Division of Continuing Education Dean Nancy Coleman. The common attendee is between 35 and 40. But the liberal arts program has garnered curiosity from retirees for private enrichment, significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We did actually see a market increase in enrollments during the pandemic. And what was really interesting is a lot of the increase in enrollments were due to general course takers taking liberal arts courses for professional enrichment,” Coleman mentioned. “Some of our liberal arts courses, particularly writing and language courses, saw the biggest enrollments that they have in a long time.” 

Coleman and Ingram lately participated in the identical class, which targeted on Harvard’s lengthy historical past. Coleman mentioned due to the synchronous side of distant studying on the extension college, a way of neighborhood is fostered throughout the various pupil inhabitants. She mentioned there’s much less of the “lonely dining table learner” expertise. 

“I met a lot of people [in class], and had interactions with Barbara and many folks that I normally wouldn’t come into contact with,” she mentioned. “I think from a community perspective, that really helps because you’re not just an anonymous person behind the screen, taking a course and doing it by yourself. I think [community] really is very meaningful during these lonely COVID times.” 

“I still want to be able to go out and be challenged,” Ingram mentioned to KTVT. Her learning habits embrace a strict schedule of 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., a timetable that appears simply as rigorous as 20-year-old undergraduate college students.

“I almost feel guilty that I’m having such a good time,” she mentioned. 

Ingram is presently registered for courses for the Spring 2022 semester, in accordance with Harvard information.



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