DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The college years came seven decades years later for a South Florida great-grandmother.

Elizabeth Janet Reilly, 85, is one month away from graduating from Broward College.

“I refuse to say I am too old I can’t do it because I am too old,” said Reilly.

Reilly, who is known as “Betty” among her classmates, told CBS4’s Jorge Estevez that as a teenager, a medical condition kept her from graduating high school. After that, five children, 19 grandchildren and great grandchildren kept her busy.

She decided to get her G.E.D at 80, then enrolled at age 81 at Broward College, where she received a scholarship for her tuition.

Her classmates say Reilly is an inspiration. The school says she is all part of a trend they are seeing of non-traditional students matriculating on campus.

Of the 45,000 students enrolled, 17,000 of them are ages 25 and over.

“She embodies the message that says there is support here for you and people to help you reach your educational goals,” said Ed Key with Broward College Enrollment Services.

After Reilly graduates, she plans on continuing her education at Florida Atlantic University to earn a degree in creative writing.

After that, she plans on becoming a motivational speaker.

I will be planning a future until the very end, whatever it is whenever it comes,” said Reilly. “You live like there are many tomorrows. Yes definitely there is, because I am proving it. I am proving it.”

Comments (7)
  1. Elliott says:

    Thanks Grandma. You are truly an inspiration!

  2. Victoria Wilson says:

    She is my classmate, and i am so inspired by what she is doing for herself every single day i see her smiling face 🙂 I love how motivated she is, especially at her age, considering that even most students my age aren’t even that driven to complete their degree. I give her a lot of credit! I love betty!

  3. Luis bonilla says:

    Way to Go. She should be a motivational speaker to todays youth that are driven by drugs and social networking sites.

  4. gia says:

    She is my great grandma. Her, and my grandfather (her son) inspire me and motivate me in life. I love you, Grandma Reilly!

  5. jenny khol says:

    This makes me proud of being a Broward College student. A college that not only embraces diversity but also the dreams of all regardless of age.
    Kuddos to Grandma Reilly! I will join you in celebrating the graduation joys next May 2012. Woo-Hoo!

  6. I knew Betty a great deal as a classmate. She is such a beautiful young lady. She has youth in her heart and she was very encouraging. I am so happy for her Congrats Betty,

    your fellow classmate,

    Way to go!

  7. malibu says:

    My philosophy is “once there is life there is hope” and Grandma Reilly success has put a boost on it. Congrats to you Grandma and all the best for the future, you are truly a motivator…way to go… a lot of these young kids need to read about your strive for success and learn from it.