California woman receives college diploma at 94

May 16, 2010

A 94-year-old Bay Area woman is the second oldest person ever to receive a college diploma. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Hazel Soares of San Leandro was one of about 500 students to receive a diploma Saturday from Mills College in Oakland.

“It’s taken me quite a long time because I’ve had a busy life,” Soares said. “I’m finally achieving it, and it makes me feel really good.”

The oldest person in the world to ever receive a college degree, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was Nola Ochs, who graduated in 2007 from Fort Hays State College in Kansas. Ochs, now 98, moved up a notch yesterday when she received a masters degree from the same school.

Soares, born in 1915, graduated from high school in 1932, but didn’t start taking college courses until in her ’80s. She received an AA degree and began studying Art History at Mills in 2007.

At 94, Soares still drives, only sees her doctor once every three years, and doesn’t take any prescription medicine. She attributes her longevity to eating lots of fresh vegetables.

Her goal is to work as a docent in a Bay Area art museum.