Nola Ochs was 95 when she moved 100 miles from her family farm in rural Kansas to Fort Hays State University after learning that she was only 30 hours shy of a bachelor’s degree that she began work on decades ago. One year later, in 2007, she became the oldest college graduate ever at the age of 95.
After graduation, Princess Cruises hired Nola as a guest lecturer on a Caribbean cruise. Upon returning, she moved back to the family farm to help with the annual wheat harvest and then returned to Fort Hays State to pursue her master’s degree. In 2001, she became the oldest recipient of a master’s degree at age 98. She took a job at Fort Hays State as a graduate teaching assistant where she worked until she was 101.
Nola died in 2016 at the age of 105.
We interviewed Nola shortly after her graduation in 2007 – one week before embarking on her paid job as astoryteller with Carnival Cruises. When asked what she wanted to tell the world about the secret to active aging she answered,
“There is a great satisfaction within us when we do something that we’ve wanted to do that is a little bit of a challenge. That feeling of satisfaction from accomplishment is healthful.”