“You Have Something To Offer.” 71-Yr-Old Discovers New Passion And Gets His Master’s Degree, Urges, “Go Out And Give It.”

Leroy Harley raising his graduation cap

It’s never too late to pursue your passion, or to change what that passion is!

Leroy Harley got an undergraduate degree in Dance, and over the years he’s held a number of different jobs ranging from dancer to cosmetologist. When his mother took ill a few years ago, the then-69-year-old moved back to his hometown of Bowman, South Carolina, to care for her.

“It came to a full head after I moved back to South Carolina to be with my mother, who was ailing,” Leroy explained. “And she started doing well, so it was like, I’ll either sit here on the porch or I gotta do something.”

His mother suggested that he try working in a school, and Leroy thought it seemed like a good idea. He got a job as a teaching assistant at Bethune-Bowman Elementary School, and he absolutely fell in love with teaching young people.

“It’s just a great place to wake up to go to, to be there with them,” he said.

In 2020, Leroy made the decision to go back to school so that he could become a teacher. He enrolled in the University of South Carolina’s Transition to Teaching program, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed his journey almost immediately.

“I had to drop out right after the summer session because I caught COVID,” he said.

Thankfully, he recovered and was able to return to his classes!

In 2022, Leroy accomplished his mission! He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Teaching at age 71, and he’s hoping his story inspires others to never give up on learning.

“I grew up in an era where it was that at 65, you were gonna retire,” he said. “By having that mindset, you push aside a lot of people with knowledge, people with not necessarily knowledge that comes from the book, but just in general, knowledge that will be able to help a kid to get through a situation. You have something to offer. Go out and give it.”

Leroy is such an inspiration for all of us who have ever wondered, “what’s next?” His achievement is a great reminder that it’s never too late to follow your dreams, just as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

Share this story to congratulate Leroy on earning his master’s degree!

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