HOUSTON — Beatrice Lillie, 80, now has her associate degree in business management, Houston Community College says.

The grandmother walked the stage last week at NRG Stadium as friends and family watched.

“I would not have believed it, I don’t think, although we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us,” says Lillie, adding that she and her classmates cheered each other on until the very end. “The young ladies were saying, I know I can do it, if you can do it.”

Lillie has already had a lifetime of career experiences, including owning her own answering-service business, but this is her first college degree.

The degree is from HCC's Business Center of Excellence, according to the school.

Pastor Maceo Dillard, Jr., who works with seniors at the Northeast Houston Multi-Service Center, encouraged her to enroll. 

“I said ‘Go for it. You can’t win if you never try,’” Dillard said. “It's important for people to keep going and engaging their minds, instead of just sitting back."

Lillie also received encouragement from her grandchildren, and she serves as an inspiration.

The one person who missed her walk the stage was her late mother. 

“I think she really would have been proud,” said Lillie. 

Lillie is now computer-savvy but doesn’t plan on changing her career path. She will continue to volunteer at the community center alongside Pastor Dillard.

She is also involved with her church.

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