"I'm so excited today, I have not been able to sleep all week," Shirley Fuller said.
At 70 years old, Shirley Fuller received her Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Administration.
"I didn't want to sit at home. It was boring!" Fuller said. "Now that my grandkids are getting their degrees, Grandma Shirley is too!"
"Seeing her get to this point in her life is just really a blessing, and we're just so happy for her," said Shirlette Leary, Fuller's daughter.
In total, Fuller -- or Grandma Shirley as her family knows her -- has nine grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
"70 is the new 25," Fuller said. "Don't ever tell yourself no."
Fuller went to high school at the Henderson Institute, but got married in the 10th grade. She left school to start her family but came back a few years later and took classes while her children were young. She graduated while she was in her 20s in 1969 in the top 10 percent of her class.
She went on to work as a paralegal for many years but never pursued a college degree until now.
ROAD TO DIPLOMA NOT AN EASY ONE
Her road to a diploma was a tough one. Fuller said she battled addiction for many years and even attempted suicide five times. She said she knows she survived that for a reason.
"I am so grateful to my God, for allowing me to be who I am," Fuller said.
Fuller also said she is her mother's only daughter out of 10 children and she promised her mother one day she would get her degree.
Her mother passed away two years ago.
"I said 'OK Shirley, do or die, before you leave this Earth, you're going to have some papers on that wall,' " Fuller recalled. "Just hold tight and take it one step at a time and you're going to make it."
She even wore her mother's stockings Monday night under her graduation gown.
Going back to school at her age wasn't easy at first.
"I had to interact with students much younger than I," Fuller said.
But she says she quickly became a mentor to many of her classmates.
"I made myself available to talk to them as a grandmother as a mother as a co-classmate, whatever it took to make sure they were comfortable," Fuller said.