Congratulations are in order to Donzella Washington who is reminding us that goals are to be accomplished on our own deadlines. 

The 80-year-old scholar graduated from Alabama A&M University on December 6 with a bachelor’s degree in social work, becoming the school's eldest graduate in its 144-year history, Good Morning America reports. 

The Birmingham, Alabama, resident not only graduated magna cum laude but received a 4.0 GPA in her final semester. She accepted her diploma in honor of her late husband, a tall, handsome man from Bakersfield, California, whose support of her dreams remained unwavering even through his final days.

Washington's mother died in 2010, followed by her sister's and husband’s deaths. The losses all took place within a three-year period. While that would deter many of us, they were catalysts for the 80-year-old. But the road which ultimately led her across the stage wasn’t a smooth one. 

Williams told the Birmingham Times discouragement from someone early in life convinced her that college wasn’t for her.

“I told this person I wanted to go to college and they said, ‘Now, you know you are going to have to write a book.’ I said, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ I never knew if I had to write a book or not, but I didn’t have the confidence in myself to do it, so I didn’t go.’’

But the faithless words weren’t the only thing that chipped away Washington’s confidence, according to Alabama A&M University News. The Tennessee native suffered from a serious stutter in her early childhood that required four speech classes to overcome, which she'd taken until she was in her thirties.

“I just felt that if I took speech classes, that would help me. And it did,’’ Washington said. “The classes just boosted my self-confidence.’’

She read about a satellite program that AAMU offered on the Lawson State Community College campus in Birmingham after she had moved to be with her daughter. It was an attractive option because it didn’t require a long drive.

She initially only wanted to obtain her associate degree, which happened in 2017 at the age of 78. But an instructor saw her drive and encourage her to continue, and Washington remembered her husband’s encouragement. 

"My father was my mother’s No. 1 fan. He supported everything she did, especially returning to school," her daughter, Kimberly Washington, said. "Although my father did not have a traditional college education, he knew the value of gaining one."

She and her husband of nearly 50 years fostered around 30 children on their farm in Pixley, California. This included a family of six siblings in the 1970s, fostered together so they wouldn't be separated. 

In an interview with AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., Washington stated she wants to inspire people of all ages to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve — including visiting nursing homes to share her story. 

Washington isn’t slowing down on her educational pursuits — she added that she may even return to academia to obtain her master's degree.