Getting My Doctorate By Eighty

by Student 6 March 2013

By Guest Blogger

Rana Lee Berman
EdD Teaching & Learning Student at Argosy University, Online Programs

I am a 75-year old doctorate student, a mother of three, a grandmother of nine and a great-grandmother of two. Reading that, it might sound like I have had a great life but I have faced and overcome my share of difficulty. I am a survivor of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and I also struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. I have now been in recovery for 25 years.

In 2001, at the age of 64, I decided to go to college after being a drug and alcohol counselor for 15 years. At this point, I had been out of school 43 years! It was terrifying, but with the help of a great history teacher, I began to learn how to study and write. I had no idea what a thesis statement was, let alone how to write an essay. In the summer of 2003, I transferred from the local community college to San Francisco State University where I earned two degrees (Jewish Studies and Black Studies) with a 3.8 GPA. I then entered the MA program in Adult Education with a concentration on Social Justice and Equity, and I graduated in May 2012.

I am now in the Argosy University, Online Programs’ doctorate program in Teaching and Learning with a concentration on teaching older students and helping colleges and universities retain these important students. My research will involve looking at community colleges in California and the types of programs they have, or do not have, for adult students over the age of 35 who are coming to college for the first time. My field study in my master’s program was developing an orientation for these students, which I have been given the go-ahead to implement this spring. I am now teaching and tutoring at the very college where I started many years ago.

This has been an amazing journey for me. I want my doctorate by the time I am 80, and I know I will have it.


At Argosy University, Online Programs, our students are passionate about their studies and many students, such as Rana, have inspiring stories to share with our community. If you are a current student or alumnus who would like your story to be heard, head over to the Campus Common ( and submit it for us to review!

It's Time to Embrace Your Inner Geek

by Argosy University 6 June 2011

A recent Yahoo News article discusses the findings of a book entitled Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins, namely that what makes you an outcast in high school can actually serve your future success as an adult. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. New ideas are rarely – if ever – born out of conformity. When you’re always worried about “fitting in” or being considered “cool,” you tend to stick to what everyone else is doing.

While most of us tend to move away from the need to be “cool” as we grow older, Robbins found that conformity can still be an issue, particularly among teachers, who at times display the type of cliquey behavior one would assume is specific to the students they teach. When the behavior of teachers reinforces the fit-in-or-else behavior of students, it can be particularly difficult to navigate the hallways if one does not fit this mold.

Thankfully, Robbins found many cases of people who were marginalized in their youth, but went on to experience great success as adults, namely Bruce Spingsteen, Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, and Steve Jobs. Think about it: could Apple possibly exist in its always-innovative state if Steve Jobs had been a conformist? There was a time when we didn’t have iPhones, LCD televisions, Dyson vacuum cleaners, and even automobiles. Surely the inventors of these technological feats weren’t fixated on what’s been done before.

Popular culture seems to be hopping on the “geek” bandwagon these days as well. Look at the success of popular television shows like Glee and The Big Bang Theory. Maybe it’s time that you embraced your inner Lady Gaga (sans dress made of meat, of course!) and realize your full potential as a student, parent, or community member. You could be one of those great success stories we’ll hear about in the future.