Graduate spotlight: Debbie Bonds achieves lifelong dream of college degree at 70

Debbie Bonds headshot
Debbie Bonds finally had the opportunity to start college at 68 years old, after her parents made her drop out of high school at 16. She graduates from Pellissippi State this week at 70!

When Debbie Bonds parents made her drop out of high school at the age of 16, she thought her dreams of going to college and becoming a teacher were over. Debbie went on to get married, work a full career and raise her children as a single mom for many years 

When she re-married in 2013Debbie’s new husband asked her if there was anything that she’d always dreamed of doing but never gotten to. Debbie told her husband she wanted to go to college. Debbie started Pellissippi State in 2018 and will graduate this month, at age 70, with her general Associate of Science degree 

“College changed me,” Debbie says. “It opened up a whole new life for me at 68 years old, and I really would love to see every adult experience it.” 

When she started considering how to go to college as an adult learner, Debbie discovered Tennessee Reconnect, for which she says she is wholeheartedly grateful.  

I really want to see more adult learners take advantage of what’s available to them,” she says. The first time my tuition was paid for by Tennessee Reconnect, I was beside myself! I think about all the adult learners that it could make a difference for. If they don’t do this, they’re missing the boat. If I had done this when I was 30 years old, it would have changed the whole trajectory of my life. Everything would have been different.”  

Debbie jumped right into college life and got involved in the National Society of Leadership and Success as well as the Student Government Association at Pellissippi State.  

“I’ve enjoyed my time in those organizations a lot,” shares Debbie. “I chose the organizations that I wanted to be a part of because I knew I couldn’t do everything. There are many great student organizations at Pellissippi State, and I advise every student to become a part of at least one organization. It’s part of that college life that everyone needs to experience. 

It’s never too late to gain an education,” Debbie adds. Every little bit of knowledge can never be taken away from you. Even if you have to do it part time, if you have to do it one class at a time, do it. However you have to do it, do it! 

Debbie, congratulations on achieving your dream of graduating from college! You are #PellissippiStrong! #PSCCgrad21 

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