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Octogenarian Takes Place Among 2013 WCSU Graduates

(WCSU) DANBURY — Florence Pilkington was just cresting her golden years when she decided to take a computer course at Western Connecticut State University. That was back in 1999.

On Sunday, the 83-year-old Danbury woman will receive a bachelor’s degree in studio art after more than a decade as a co-ed.

“I always loved school,” said Pilkington, dressed in bright pink and relaxing on the Midtown campus after her Tuesday morning class. “Any time a flier came in the mail about an adult education course, I would take it.”

Pilkington, a widow with two grown children, was raised in Long Island where she attended high school for a few years. Then her father became ill and her mother asked Pilkington to leave school, take a few business courses and work to help support the family. Pilkington took a bookkeeping job and helped her mother with the bills until she married at age 20. It was years later that Pilkington worked to earn her Graduate Equivalency Diploma.

Although she didn’t return to school until 1999, Pilkington said she took as many adult education courses as she could find and eventually came across a mailing from Western that piqued her interest in learning more about computers. Then she took a summer piano course for fun followed by the history of music.

“The professor said ‘if you continue with music, you have to get up on that stage,’” she recalled. “Well, that’s not for me.” So, it was on to the art department, where Pilkington found a passion that she could stick with.

Going to college in her 70s and 80s has obviously kept Pilkington young and she says that going to school is her “playtime.” While she is not looking to start a career, Pilkington said she will continue painting in her spare time but what she’s really looking forward to is returning to school in the fall.

“After 14 years of going to school, I’ll still come back and take courses,” she said. “It’s knowledge and keeps your brain going.”

Visit Western Connecticut State University online for additional information: www.WCSU.edu.

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