After earning bachelor’s at 70, grandmother has eye on master’s

Edna Rawson in TWU academic regalia at the Texas Motor Speedway.

If fulfilling her lifelong ambition of earning a bachelor’s degree wasn’t proof enough that Edna Rawson won’t let age be a barrier to her success, consider this: The 70-year-old grandmother now has her sights set on a master’s degree in social work.

“My age isn’t preventing me from moving forward,” Rawson said recently. She has since applied to a master’s program in social work that begins this summer, and is eyeing two others that begin in the fall.  And that’s not all. She’s looking into applying to law school as early as 2022.

Rawson was among more than 1,200 Texas Woman’s University graduates last December who participated in a memorable ceremony at Fort Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway in which graduation candidates took a victory lap around the track before accepting their diploma covers at the finish line. The day after she turned 70, Rawson earned her degree in general studies.

Besides the distinction of completing a degree during a global pandemic and maintaining a full-time job, there are other reasons to be in awe of Rawson’s extraordinary feat. The mother of six raised her children as a single parent.

Rawson grew up near the northern Louisiana town of Homer, but started spending summers in the Metroplex as a child until her family moved to Dallas permanently right before she enrolled in the ninth grade. Her father died when she was in elementary school, and her mother, who had dropped out of school in the eighth grade, had to work a grueling schedule to support the family.

“Nobody taught us to go to college, just to work—and that’s what we did,” Rawson recalled. “When you are poor, you think first about making money.”

Edna Rawson with a family member in TWU academic regalia at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Her first college experience wasn’t long after high school, when she enrolled in one of Dallas College’s community campuses, but as with many other young college students, life happens, and she needed to switch her focus more toward earning a living than attending college.

“It was constant over the last 40 years,” Rawson said, adding: “Sometimes, we get in our own way.”

After an initial job at a local hospital carrying out minor tasks, she found herself embarking on a series of jobs over the course of her adult life, trying to find the right fit. Among the jobs she took were sales clerk, cashier, long-distance telephone operator, secretary, newspaper advertising representative, accounting assistant and receptionist.

Rawson worked at a department store, at a newspaper, at a health science center, an insurance office, a children’s shelter, for the Texas Department of Human Services and a community college district. She completed her bachelor’s degree while working full time in the advising department for Richland College, part of the Dallas Colleges network.

“I have been wanting this for more than 40 years, I guess I just didn’t know that when I first got out of high school,” Rawson said. “I knew God wanted me to do something else.”

Completing her degree was an inspiration to her family and friends, and Rawson hopes it may provide a spark of motivation for others to follow their dreams. It’s certainly had an impact on one of her daughters.

“To see our mom do this at 70 years old has really inspired us,” said Kayla Monroe, who lives in Dallas. “She has inspired me to keep following my dream of doing what I want to do — sing.”

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Matt Flores
Assistant Vice President, University Communications

Page last updated 5:02 PM, January 27, 2021