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Patricia Owen poses in her cap and gown.

Age is Just a Number

How Tricia Owen Graduated from Pima Community College at Age 72 ā€“ Fulfilling a Life-Long Dream

By Justin Kree, External Relations 

“Graduation day will be quite emotional as I walk across the stage as one of the oldest graduates this year. I never walked in High School, so this is a big deal for me,” Patricia Owen, a Recent 2024 PCC graduate, said.

Patricia's, who goes by Tricia, story begins long before graduation day.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Tricia Owen came to the United States with her husband, Michael, in 1973. They lived four years in Los Angeles before settling down in Tucson in 1977. She raised a growing family and worked in sales for decades, which kept Owen busy. Going to college and finishing a degree was never an idea that was discussed. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that changed everything. Owen’s employer was downsizing, and she was out of a job at 70.

“I was devastated. I needed a purpose and goal, so after talking with my husband and daughters, they encouraged me to go back to college. So, at 70 years old, I decided to go full force and do this,” Owen said.

Taking classes virtually at PCC during the pandemic, Owen was looking to take only a few credits just to keep herself busy a few days a week. After talking with her PCC instructors and advisors, they convinced Owen to achieve her General Studies Degree.

Patricia Owen poses for the camera in PCC's library.
Patricia Owen. Photo by Bryce Morthland

“I noticed that I was committed. I was really enthusiastic about continuing my education and making myself more of a worldly person. Everyone in my family has college degrees: my husband, my daughters, my sons-in-law, and now I want to feel a part of that group, Owen said.

Every day, Owen would log on and begin class with her classmates who were many years younger than her. However, the age gap didn’t bother her at all.

“I loved the virtual classes; I loved the interaction. It was tremendous stimulation knowing I had a lifetime of experience, and I could add my two cents to the class. I met some really nice young people who I encouraged. I would tell them to go forward. You can do this; take one thing at a time. I felt like a matriarch to many of my fellow students,” Owen said.

ā€œI love Pima. Iā€™m an absolute true believer in Pima Community College. Pima has all the resources anyone needs to be successful. It truly is an asset to the Tucson community.ā€ ~Patricia Owen

When Owen came to Tucson, PCC had only existed for seven years. She has seen how much the school has grown and the quality of education provided.

“I love Pima. I’m an absolute true believer in Pima Community College. Pima has all the resources anyone needs to be successful. It truly is an asset to the Tucson community,” Owen said

To the graduating class of 2024, Owen offers the motherly advice to stay independent and broaden your horizons.

“Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever think you’re too old to enrich your education. Just believe in yourself and go for it. You need to have discipline when you’re young to want to be educated. Even if you don’t leave Tucson, don’t let that hold you back from getting an education,” Owen said.

Owen has a long list of people she credits for helping her achieving the degree. She said God, her family, and her late father are at the center of who she is. She would like to thank many Pima Community College instructors and her neighbor Karen for tutoring her and helping her get through her tough math class.

Owen will graduate with a general studies degree and walk across the stage on May 22. Her education journey might not be over just yet. At 72 years old, Owen will continue to play tennis, hang out with her husband, and toss around the idea of getting her bachelor’s degree next.

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