Graduating granny hopes to inspire others

She was born in 1941, just a few months before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States became entangled in World War II. 81 years, 14 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren later, Janice Hall will receive her degree in organizational management from Bethel University in Mishawaka.

Two of her three children will attend the ceremony Saturday afternoon at Bethel, along with many inspired classmates, professors, and community members. She believes her husband would have been very proud, but he passed away many years ago. You see, it's not just her age that makes the effort to get her degree extraordinary, it's what she's had to endure and overcome.

Hall survived two battles with breast cancer, and then about ten years ago she suffered a stroke that left her unable to walk. But "Nanny," as her flock of grandkids and great-grandkids call her, worked hard to recover her mental abilities. She did have to retire though, which was difficult for a woman who had worked most of her life. 

Hall moved to South Bend in1972 from Rockford, Ill. to become the city's Human Rights Director. She later served as South Bend's Human Resources Director, and she worked 17 years at 1st Source Bank in employee relations. She was also a pastor at the River of Life Family Church in South Bend for ten years.

So, she needed another challenge after retiring, and she decided to go back to school and get her degree in organizational management. She started in Bethel's adult program a few years ago, but then a car accident took her off the road to that degree and back on the road to recovery. Hall returned to Bethel last year and finished up the course work she needed to get her degree.

"I decided to return to college not only to prove to myself that I could achieve this goal but also to be a role model to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren," said Hall. "I am proud to have reached this milestone and I want to encourage others with disabilities to pursue their dreams. My disability and age do not define or limit my potential. There are no limits when you put your faith in God."

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