An inspiring octogenarian in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been in college for 36 years, and says she plans to continue her studies indefinitely.
Ann Dilley, 86, received a college diploma from a Connecticut school in 1950, but became fascinated with the art of jewelry making after seeing the work of Beverly Seley, a metalsmithing professor at Grand Valley State University.
"I went to a presentation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum where Beverly spoke," said Dilley, USA Today reported
. "I loved hearing about it so much, I became a student of it, and I've been doing it ever since."
"It has been a real joy to have Ann in class," said Seley. "She's always off on the next big idea."
As a non-degree-seeking college student, Dilley has kept her course of studies open-ended, and these days often finds herself helping younger students in the class.
She herself particularly enjoys repurposing old trinkets and treasures into wearable masterpieces. Over the years, she's worked with her mother's hand-me-down cameos, her father's cigarette holder, old diaper pins, hat pins, driftwood, and even seed pods.
Currently, she's making brooches from the wax flower's in her mother's 1927 wedding bouquet, and plans to give them to her two daughters.
"It's not a hobby; it's more of a passion," said Dilley. "I think as one marches along in life, you need a passion because as you get older, a lot of things happen that aren't particularly pleasant, and this is what keeps me going."
For her most recent birthday, Dilley's family created the Ann Dilley Jewelry/Metalsmithing Scholarship, which helps students finance their education in Dilley's favorite pastime.
Dilley said that she will continue to pursue her passion as long as her health will allow.
"Even when I'm 102, that's fine," Dilley said. "I might not want to drive when I get to that age, but I could get a chauffeur, maybe. I'm a student. I would hope to be one every bit of my life."
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