Grandpa, 84, graduates from NEIU with history degree

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A suburban Northbrook man proved that it's never too late to chase a dream.

Jerry Pollard, an 84-year-old grandpa, graduated with honors during a ceremony Monday at Northeastern Illinois University on Chicago's Northwest Side.

He earned a bachelor of arts in history. And he graduated summa cum laude.

"I retired in 2000, and I don't have any hobbies, and I had to find something to keep me occupied. So I thought, 'Oh well, I'll go get the education I should have gotten in 1950," Pollard said.

Pollard is the oldest person to earn his undergraduate degree from the university in its 149-year history.

Family members from all around attended the graduation. Pollard has four children and nine grandchildren.

The goal was to finish college before his grandchildren.

"I had a granddaughter that was nine, and one who was seven, and seven behind them," he said. "The question was 'Who's going to graduate first? Me or them?"

And his family could not be more proud.

"He's been working on this for so long, we're so proud of him," said granddaughter Danielle Schaer.

Pollard enrolled at the school 12 years ago, after he finished his associate's degree from Oakton Community College.

Even his spring break wasn't typical - he climbed Mount Everest.

"There's always something you don't know, there's always something you can learn, when you stop learning, you're dead," Pollard said.

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