Showing us the way

Laney's oldest 2011 grad tells inspiring tale of determination
Corey Perrine/Staff
Delores Mobley tears up after graduating at James Brown Arena. Mobley, 62, was the oldest graduate of the class of 2011 for Laney High School.

If every student were like Delores Mobley, schools would have to find a way to make every seat a front-row seat.


She wore out the edge of that seat, too -- leaning into everything the teacher was imparting.

After all, the 62-year-old 1967 Lucy C. Laney High School dropout had some 40 years of yearning for learning bottled up inside her.

"If I had a classroom full of Ms. Mobleys, it would be a joy," Tubman Education Center evening school teacher Henry Harris told The Augusta Chronicle's Tracey McManus.

Now, decades after leaving school to marry a man 20 years older and raise his eight children and twins of her own, she has walked across the commencement stage in cap and gown with Laney's class of 2011 -- and is even fielding queries from colleges.

Just for the sheer passage of time between dropping out and graduating, this is an incredible story of determination and willpower. But it is made more so by the fact that she felt trapped and stunted by a controlling spouse. The feeling of captivity was so acute that when he died in 2008, she would sit in her car for hours listening to the radio and contemplating the porthole to the world that had just opened up.

Yet, somehow, despite juggling a great-grandbaby, an early-morning school cafeteria job and more, Mobley managed to pick herself up and get through evening school -- where her hungry heart and voracious brain must have humbled the other students, who were her grandchildren's age.

In turn, we learn from her. That it's never too late to soak in all the knowledge the world has to offer. That you can take control of your life and pick yourself off the floor. That it's never too late to reclaim yourself.

Delores Mobley has shown us the way.

1967 Laney dropout doesn't give up on diploma


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