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67-year-old graduates from Harris-Stowe to accomplish long-time goal

The St. Louis native started taking college classes when she was young but she didn't finish. Her mother, before she passed, encouraged her to pursue her passion.

ST. LOUIS — We are in the midst of graduation season and one graduate stands out from her classmates. That's because she's about four decades older than most of them. 

The Harris-Stowe State grad is proving there is no age limit to getting an education.

It's the pomp and circumstance that makes this time of the year so special. Among these class of 2022 graduates is a beloved classmate who — when you see her — you won't forget.

"I just stood out, I guess,” Donna Maria Hall said.

Not just because of her upbeat, spunky personality.

"If you have wisdom, let people know you have wisdom,” she said.

Donna Maria Hall walked the halls of Harris-Stowe State as a student more than four decades older than most of her counterparts.

"I guess I'm the motherly type, but a lot of them adhere to me,” she explained.

The St. Louis native started taking college classes when she was young but she didn't finish.

"I had kids and everything at a young age."

She said her mother, who has since passed away, inspired her to never forget the importance of pursuing a passion.

"I always wanted to finish school,” Hall said.

So she enrolled at Harris-Stowe State University in 2017 and this month graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biology. She said learning from professors with advanced degrees motivated her.

"It made me want to strive…I answer questions. I knew a lot of things because I read a lot. I studied well because I didn't have little kids running around my feet,” she added.

Her advisors say she would speak up in class when her classmates were too timid.

"Donna is the one who would say 'Hey, if you don't ask, you won't learn'…(She was) one of the students who kept the group lively, who kept the younger students moving. Some of them called her ‘Momma Donna',” Freddie Wills Jr. said.

Now they're congratulating her for not only nurturing them, but for also doing it for herself.

"I feel great,” Hall said.

The 67-year-old said eventually she will pursue a master's degree but for now, she's just basking in the success of accomplishing a long-time goal.

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