For 71-year-old Leroy Harley, retirement isn’t in the cards right now — teaching is.
The Bowman, South Carolina, native is making headlines for recently graduating from the University of South Carolina with his master’s degree in teaching. He decided at 69 that he would embark on a new path toward his passion for education, WLTX reported.
“I really am proud of myself; I mean, I have to be,” said Harley, who graduated on Saturday afternoon.
In 1993, Harley found himself returning home to Bowman after years of moving around. He spent most of his time with his mother, who motivated him to seek a teaching opportunity at the local school. Harley took his mother’s advice and applied to Bethune-Bowman Elementary School, where he was hired as a teacher’s aide before enrolling at USC, according to 6Park News.
“Anything that was new and interesting, I became interested in it,” Harley said.
“I thought, ‘Why am I going back to school at this age? I should be sorta coasting into retirement,” he said. “But I went on and did it anyhow.”
Harley’s sister, Patsy Rhett, told 11Alive that she is happy for her brother for following through on his heart’s desires.
“I am elated at the fact that Lee, after all these years, decided to follow his heart,” she said. “He has. Education has always been a strong part of his life.”
Harley may be 71, but he proves that passion has no age limit. He believes that if you want to pursue your dreams, do it with the belief that you are capable of learning and bringing your gifts to the table.
“I say go ahead and do it, I mean, because … you bring a lot to the table, OK?” he said. “There’s a lot you have to learn at the table, but you bring a lot to the table.”