Johnnie Jones reached a milestone of which many people only dream: a doctorate degree.

Did we mention he is 83 years old?

The Vietnam veteran began his educational journey in 1953 after he saw other Marines who possessed high school diplomas scoring better opportunities, according to The Advocate. After attending night school to get his diploma, he took junior college classes until he deployed.

War couldn’t even stop Jones from continuing classes. A remote program created by Louisiana State University (LSU) allowed him to study while he served as a sergeant during his two tours.

“I wanted to stay connected, so to speak. I didn’t want to run the risk of losing interest because I had begun studies at San Diego Community College when I went to Vietnam,” Jones told KXXV. “LSU’s correspondence course was offered to any student, regardless where they were or what their status was, so I just happened to take advantage of the program.”

When Jones made it back to the States, he earned a bachelor’s in sociology at the University of Hawaii and a master’s from LSU after he retired from the Marine Corps. He started courses for a doctorate but was unable to finish due to financial issues.

Jones eventually became a warden at a women’s prison and worked until he retired in 2006. His retirement led him back to higher education.

He became an assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern University and continued his doctorate at LSU. He was able to secure a waiver to finish the program in seven years due to health issues.

Jones says his work ethic stuns his significantly younger classmates.

“All of the students I have classes with, practically all of them are old enough to be my grandchildren, and they find it amazing that I would be subjecting myself to that kind of mental torture at my age where I’m retired from the Marines, retired from Corrections,” Jones said. “Why are you doing this? I can’t explain it to them.”

While most older adults want to kick back and enjoy their golden years, Jones finds such a lifestyle unappealing. He believes age is merely a state of mind.

“Age is an artificial constraint. There’s nothing magical about 65, 75, 95, 105. Your behavior, your activities should be guided by your physical fitness and your mental fitness. If you’re mentally fit and physically fit, you should keep on pushing,” Jones said.

“We’ve been so socialized to believe that once you hit a certain age, I’ve done my thing, so I’m going to sit back and enjoy life," he continued. "OK, if that’s your thing, that’s your thing. But to me, age doesn’t mean that much. It’s whether or not I have the ability to be doing the things I need to be doing.”

Jones doesn't just talk. His workout routine would stun people in their 20s and 30s, and it's been paying off because his Black ain’t cracking.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine. I still engage in physical activity. I work out Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, and those three days I do over a thousand push-ups, 300 jumping jacks, and I run 3 miles each day, so 9 miles a week, I do that every week. That’s my routine, and I feel guilty when it rains, and I don’t get a chance to do it,” he said.

Jones plans to attend law school although he doesn’t want to be a lawyer.

“It’s my intent to pursue higher education as long as I’m physically and mentally able to do so,” he said. “I don’t plan on stopping.”

WBRZ reports Jones will pick up his degree in human ecology on Friday.


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