82-Year-Old Studies Economics, Asian Environments at Harvard

Pandemic sends Preston Hollow’s Barbara Ingram back to college

Even skeptics of the phrase, “It’s never too late,” may have to reconsider when Barbara Ingram speaks those words.

The 82-year-old Preston Hollow resident is finishing her second semester at Harvard University and has no plans to slow down anytime soon. 

Ingram enrolled in her first class last year when the shutdown was in full force.

“When COVID came, I found myself sitting around not doing anything, and I didn’t want to not use my brain or stimulate it, so I decided that I would try going back to school,” she said. “I talked to my family about it, and they were really supportive. At my age, I feel like I’m the luckiest person walking around at 82 to be able to go back to school and take these subjects.”

I’m just telling people my age, or anyone who wants to go back to school, if I can do it, you can do it.

Barbara Ingram

Ingram chose to take the most challenging classes within the subjects that interested her most. She took Economics her first semester and is taking East Asian Environments now. 

“I love it and am amazed at how the mind works,” she said. “Things started coming back to me that I hadn’t studied in 60 years, since I was in college. I started remembering things, even after not using those parts of my brain in many years.”

As if going back to school at 82 was not already a feat by itself, Ingram also had to adjust to an entirely virtual learning environment. 

Despite the significant learning curve, she enjoyed adapting to the world of online classes, message boards, and virtual lectures.

“I love learning new things and being part of a class where there are people from every country, all over the world, and meeting them,” Ingram said. “I love talking with my professors, and I love history and the fact that a lot of the history goes back to things that happened when I was younger and learning more about it. So it’s just been a wonderful adventure and journey for me.”

Ingram has a message for anyone who may be apprehensive about going back to school or think the time for higher learning has already passed.

“I’m just telling people my age, or anyone who wants to go back to school, if I can do it, you can do it,” Ingram said. “I made it a challenge, but yet I didn’t put stress on myself. I’ve made it non-stressful, and I’ve made it kind of fun. When I go out with my friends, they always want to know what I’m learning, and it’s kind of a great dinner conversation to be able to tell them. I’ve really surprised myself.”

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