Longtime dream comes true for Virginia Western Community College graduate

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 10:46 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - “If this 67-year-old who began her higher education journey with odds stacked against her can march across this stage this evening with honors, there’s absolutely, absolutely no limits you can’t accomplish,” said Vera Morton during Friday night’s commencement ceremony.

For Vera Morton, this is a day she’s always envisioned.

“Just to get here, I’m numb, I’m excited, I feel like yelling, I feel like running, just mixed emotions.”

Morton is graduating from Virginia Western Community College. It’s a journey that started with many challenges.

“I was robbed of my education. In 1959, rather than integrate the public schools, Prince Edward County literally closed and locked the doors for five long years.”

In 1964, Morton found herself in the third grade because of her age.

“Please bear in mind, I had not yet gained the fundamental knowledge of first or second grades, such as reading, spelling, writing and basic arithmetic.”

Around 1990, Morton received a college certificate but not a degree. For the next few decades she put college on hold. Despite these challenges, the dream of walking across the stage was always on Morton’s mind. It’s something that presented itself when she and her husband relocated to Roanoke in 2017.

“I revived that dream and enrolled at Virginia Western Community College.”

Morton became a recipient of the “Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship” at the college. Friday evening, she took time to thank each and every person at Virginia Western who has helped make this dream come true.

“...Who assisted and encouraged me along this academic journey to successfully complete my social degree.”

Morton had some words of encouragement for all who might be wondering if they can do something: go for it.

“I know a lot of people say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; that’s not true. Look at me. I’m living proof of that.”

After earning her social degree in liberal arts, Morton said she is going to take some time off, but will enroll in some medical records courses at Virginia Western in the future.

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