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85-year-old Iowa woman earns GED in just 59 days

December 14, 2012

DUBUQUE - An 85-year-old Dubuque woman recently proved it's never too late to learn.

Lois Houselog wore a black graduation cap as she was handed her high school diploma at a ceremony Wednesday night, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported. She received the diploma after completing a general education development, or GED, course in the span of 59 school days.

The audience, which included classmates several generations younger than her, gave Houselog a standing ovation after a school official praised her dedication and perseverance.

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Lois Houselog, 85, is congratulated by family after receiving her GED during a graduation ceremony Wednesday at Northeast Iowa Community College Town Clock Center for Professional Development in Dubuque.

"I didn't expect all the hoopla," Houselog said. "I guess it was because of my age and because I went through so fast."

Houselog was born on a rural Jackson County farm in 1927. She left school in the eighth grade and worked various jobs for the next 60 years, including cooking in a sanatorium for the mentally ill and running activities at a nursing home for nuns.

Between jobs she got married, raised two children and took care of sick family members. Her husband, Norbort, died 10 years ago after he became sick.

Houselog said she decided to get her diploma after telling her son, Michael, about her aspirations.

"She's always been taking care of someone in need, but when she told her son in public she was going to do this, she was forced to deal with her own dream," said Linda Lee, Houselog's daughter.

Houselog's teachers praised their older pupil and the effect she's had on her peers.

"Lois was highly motivated. She stuck to it and was always in a good mood," said Laurie Anderson, one of her instructors at the learning center at Northeast Iowa Community College. "It was nice how she blended with the other students. She was like their grandma."

Anderson also said Houselog offers a good life lesson to others.

"She's living proof that you're never too old to learn and age is not a barrier to learning," she said.



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