Leroy Harley, a 71-year-old African American man from Bowman, South Carolina, has recently graduated from the University of South Carolina after completing his master’s degree in teaching.
It was only 2 years ago when Harley decided to go back to school. In the past years, he has been moving around trying out different career paths since 1993. But when her mother suggested that he try working at a school, he applied at Bethune-Bowman Elementary School where he then worked as a teacher’s aide.
“I immediately got interested in teaching. Like I say, if it’s something new, I am going to try it and see where it takes me,” he told WLTX.
That’s when Harley thought of going back to college to pursue a teaching degree.
“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.”
He credits his success to his own hard work as well as the support from his family, especially his sister Patsy Rhett.
“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, who is proud of himself and his achievement, encourages others who are also thinking of changing their careers even at a late age.
“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.”
Moreover, Harley plans to teach in the next few years and has no plans to retire yet.