83 years after finishing her master’s coursework, this Stanford graduate finally received her education degree

Virginia “Ginger” Hislop, 105, recently walked the stage at Stanford University to receive her master’s degree in education for the coursework she completed in 1941.

A smiling Hislop rose to an ovation on June 16 as she received her degree and master’s hood at the university’s Graduate School of Education diploma ceremony while her family, including her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, cheered her on, Stanford University said in a news release.

School dean Daniel Schwartz described Hislop, who went on to serve as a board member of schools, colleges and universities in Washington state, as “a fierce advocate for equity and the opportunity to learn,” according to the release.

Schwartz said the centenarian graduate, who lives in Yakima, Washington, “led a life of tremendous educational accomplishment.”

Hislop said of the long wait between leaving campus and grasping her degree: “My goodness. I’ve waited a long time for this,” according to Stanford.

Hislop, a native of Palo Alto, California, earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 1940 from Stanford’s then-School of Education with the plan of earning a master’s degree so she could begin teaching, the release stated.

She was inspired to pursue an education career by her grandmother, who was a pre-Civil War educator in Kansas, and her aunt, who served as principal of a West Los Angeles school.

However, her boyfriend at the time, George Hislop, was called to serve in World War II, so the two got married and Virginia Hislop left Stanford after completing her coursework but before handing in her thesis, according to the university.

“I thought it was one of the things I could pick up along the way if I needed it and I always enjoyed studying, so that wasn’t really a great concern to me, and getting married was,” she said in an interview with Stanford.

Her decision to put obtaining her master’s degree on hold did not pause her commitment to education. Hislop has served on the Yakima School Board of Directors, is a founding board of directors member of Yakima Community College and served for 20 years on the board of Heritage University in Toppenish, Washington, the release stated.

“I think I did good things for our local school system and I helped broaden it out,” she told Stanford University. “For me, this degree is an appreciation of the many years I’ve put in working for the schools in the Yakima area and on different boards.”

She added: “I’ve been doing this work for years and it’s nice to be recognized with this degree,” she said.

Hislop was initially motivated to make an impact on children’s education through school board involvement after helping her then school-aged daughter, Anne Hislop Jensen, advocate for taking an advanced English class instead of a school-suggested home economics course, according to the release.

“I felt that all the kids should have an opportunity to develop their potential as best they could, and that everybody should have a crack at higher education if they wanted,” Hislop said.

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