Education never gets old for 75-year-old learner

June 03, 2021 / by / 2 Comments

Ophelia Brown, 75, is working toward her doctorate after earning a long list of other degrees and certifications. 

Third in a series highlighting learners in the College of Doctoral Studies. 

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

Ophelia Brown is a perpetual student.

The 75-year-old doctoral leaner’s passion for knowledge has played a central role in her academic and professional careers.

Brown has earned several diplomas and certifications to grow as a practicing nurse, including a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a Diploma in Nursing program before she completed a Registered Nurse (RN) program. Later, she obtain a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and completed a dual program to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

The Maryland native has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is taking steps toward completing her Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Health Care Administrations from Grand Canyon University’s College of Doctoral Studies.

“It’s been a good experience,” Brown said at her second residency last month. “I honestly can say all the professors are excellent. Some have a harder teaching style, but, in the end, I’ve come out better for it.”

Her attitude is a testament to Brown’s intangible thirst for knowledge.

“Education is very, very important to me,” she said.

That emphasis has trickled down to her children and grandchildren. All four of her children have completed at least one graduate degree, and three are actively pursuing a doctorate or already have completed one. Her oldest of seven grand children is working toward a doctoral degree as well.

Although impressive, the retired geriatric nurse practitioner’s journey was not without obstacles.

After being married for nearly 47 years, Brown lost her husband six years ago.

She also would face challenges with adapting to the online education format for her doctorate program. Sometimes, she wondered if she was in over her head.

“I was very discouraged. It was just like, ‘Why am I doing this?’” she said. “In coming (to residency) … I feel better leaving than I did coming.

“In doing this, sometimes there are those little questions that you have that you can’t ask someone unless they’re in a doctoral program. It’s nice to be able to have someone to ask and not feel inadequate or stupid. I can honestly say that’s the greatest thing I’ve gotten out of this.”

It’s an experience that Brown ranks at the top of her list for academia.

“In all my academic environments, this is one of the best environments,” she said. “They’re supportive, the religious foundation is good but not overwhelming and I haven’t had one professor that I thought that I couldn’t talk to.”

Reaching this point in her academic journey and continuing to make strides toward the finish line is something that Brown hopes can be example to not only her family but to anyone looking to continue their education.

“I’m doing it for me, but at the same time I want to send a message,” she said. “You’re never to old to learn and go back to school.

“The mind doesn’t age. It grows.”

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: An attorney, a single mom … and now a doctorate

GCU Today: She’s fashioning an inspiring example for her family

GCU Today: Doctoral learners make grand return to campus

GCU Today: Residency friendship turns into business partnership

GCU Today: Doctoral learner, GCE board member wins award


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2 Responses
  1. Patricia A. Denman

    CONGRATS ON YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS MRS. BROWN. Your story also resonates with my story. I started my college career at age 40 after sending my daughter to college. That was twenty-five years ago. I have completed my associates of Applied Science in Human Services and several certification programs and earned a Real Estate License. To complete my undergraduate in Behavioral Health I now have three more courses to complete. It’s been a hard journey but worth every minute. I love your statement “The mind doesn’t age, it grows”. I love to learn all that I can to help my grandchildren understand that you can learn at any age.
    Be Blessed.
    Patricia A. Denman

    Jun.09.2021 at 9:12 pm
  2. Gwen Scott

    I would really like to speak with Ophelia Brown, if possible. I live in AZ and I’m celebrating my 75th real soon. Her thinking seems to align with what I have been thinking and I feel that she could give me some insight for what I would like to do. I see her as a vehicle of inspiration.

    Jun.14.2021 at 9:15 pm
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