FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Rosa McWhite is originally from Pamplico. She graduated high school from what is now Hannah-Pamplico back in 1964. She says she always knew she had the fire in her to further her education, but life and fear got in the way.

“My idea when I got out of high school,” McWhite said, “was to get a job and make some money because when you grew up poor that’s what you were thinking about when you should be focused on education but it’s your background and what you’re used to.”

McWhite says she enrolled at Francis Marion University just before her 71st birthday. Today, at 77-years-old, she reflected on the encouragement from her family, FMU staff and her 3.495 GPA. She said she’s excited to finally achieve her goal of receiving her Bachelors Degree in General Studies with a concentration in English.

“My biggest and greatest experience was my Creative Writing class. I realize it was only one class, but that class changed my life because I was able to express things in writing that I never really talked about before and being able to do that it propelled me to another level.”

It was her Creative Writing Professor, Dr. Rachel Spear who says McWhite was in fact the inspiration.

“The gift that I can recall Rosa sharing was very inspiring and it was to chase your dreams and to know that it is never too late.”

Now McWhite is preparing for Saturday, the day she gets to walk across the stage with the other 200 plus FMU graduates and remembering the values of education her parents taught her every step of the way.

“It’s just been the greatest experience of my life. I would just say to the young folk, you know don’t be afraid because if you’re being taught, you can learn. That’s what my mother always said to me.”