71-Year-Old South Carolina Man Graduates With Master’s Degree


May 12, 2022

It’s never too late to try something new!

A 71-year-old South Carolina man just graduated with his master’s degree, WLTX News 19 reports.

Leroy Harley is a South Carolina native, spending the majority of his time traveling around and dabbling in various careers since the early 90s. Eventually, he returned back home to be closer to his mother, who recommended he take up work at the local elementary school. 


Harley took his mom’s advice, applying to Bethune Bowman Elementary School where he was hired as a teacher’s aide. 

“Anything that was new and interesting, I became interested in it…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,” said Leroy.

That’s when he decided he was going to go back to college to earn a degree as an educator at the age of 69. He admits, that being older he did have some hesitancy, but he also realized it couldn’t hurt to try something different. 


“I thought, ‘Why am I going back to school at this age? I should be sorta coasting into retirement. But I went on and did it anyhow,” Leroy recalled.

Now at 71-years-old, he has graduated from the University of South Carolina with his master’s degree in teaching, an accomplishment he’s extremely proud of.

“I really am proud of myself, I mean I have to be,” said Leroy.


He credits his family with helping him navigate school, saying the support of his sister Patsy Rhett really made a lot of difference. Rhett said she’s ecstatic but not surprised at what her brother has been able to do. 

“I am elated at the fact that Lee, after all these years, decided to follow his hear… Education has always been a strong part of his life,” said Rhett. 

Harley plans to work as a teacher for the next couple of years and hasn’t yet put a date on when he’ll retire. He hopes his story inspires others who may be looking to make a career change and let them know it’s never too late. 


“I say go ahead and do it, I mean, because… you bring a lot to the table, OK? There’s a lot you have to learn at the table, but you bring a lot to the table,” he said.

Congratulations, Mr. Leroy! 

Photo Courtesy of Leroy Harley/WLTX News 19


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