Friday, June 13, 2008



Graduation is Saturday and here's a nice story from the Spokesman Review on our oldest graduate - congrats!

Friday, June 13, 2008

EWU's senior senior

Shawn Vestal
Staff writer
June 13, 2008

Ann Prideaux has waited for this a long time.

She graduated from high school in 1953. She first enrolled in college in 1989. And Saturday, wearing the cap and gown and gray cord of the magna cum laude graduate, she'll go through commencement ceremonies with hundreds of fellow students at Eastern Washington University.

At 73, she's the university's senior senior.

"It only took her 20 years," said her husband, John. "One course at a time."

A longtime court reporter in Spokane County Superior Court, Prideaux is graduating with a degree in interdisciplinary studies – an EWU program that helps working adults get college credit that involves night courses and options for gaining college credit for work experience.

As the population ages and adults seek to bolster their educations, so-called nontraditional students such as Prideaux are becoming a larger part of the college landscape. For several years now, the number of college students older than 25 has outnumbered those younger than 25, according to national statistics.

Prideaux grew up in rural South Dakota, where "we could hardly wait to get out of school." She moved with her family to Pendleton, Ore., in 1951, and graduated from high school in 1953.

"I really wasn't college material then," she said.

But she did want some specialized training, so she moved to Tacoma, where she lived at the YWCA and took court-reporting classes.

"That was a big change," she said. "That was a big town to me."

She met her husband while working at her first job in Walla Walla. John was working as a parole and probation officer. They married in 1958, moved to Spokane a few years later, and raised two kids here. John, a Washington State University graduate, has been retired nearly 20 years.

By the late 1980s, their children were grown and Ann was ready to try something new.

"After we had paid for our children's education, I decided I would like to try and get some of that for myself," she said. "It was just time. I was mature, and I wanted to know more about my world."

Her children gave her a Christmas gift of a quarter's tuition in 1989, and she was off. She enjoyed virtually all of her classes – except math, she said.

"I hadn't had a math class in 52 years," she said. "So I had to start at the bottom."

She had to take remedial courses and work through the required classes at the community colleges and Whitworth – most core courses such as math at EWU are held during the day. Prideaux had to take night courses to fit around her work schedule – for nearly 20 years, she had a weekly four-hour night course of some kind at EWU's downtown Spokane center.

An avid reader who said she particularly enjoyed her literature classes and Shakespeare, Prideaux is graduating magna cum laude with a GPA of 3.6. She's excited about that – within reason.

"Wasn't summa," she said.

Prideaux, who is technically retired but returned to work, plans to stop working full time in January, along with her boss, Judge Robert Austin. She might consider grad school, but whatever she does, she's not planning to sit around.

"I'm going to have a new adventure," she said.

She doesn't have any big plans for her graduation, partly because she's had a lot of celebrations lately, including a 50th wedding anniversary. But she's definitely planning to walk on Saturday. She went to the EWU bookstore earlier this week to pick up her mortarboard, where the clerk had a moment of confusion.

"She said, 'The student has to pick it up,' " Prideaux said.

"I said, 'Why, I am the student.' "

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