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72-Year-Old Darlene Mullins Finishes College With Honours

SUCCESS: Darlene Mullins, 72, graduated summa cum laude from Tennessee State University after a nearly half-centurylong hiatus CREDIT: JOHN CROSS/TSU MEDIA RELATIONS

DARLENE MULLINS is a clear example of why it's never to late to gain an education.

At the age of 72, the grandmother of four graduated from Tennessee State University and walked at the school’s commencement last Saturday.

Mullins left school nearly 55 years ago due to her relationship with her now husband, John Mullins. She was a track star at the historically black college and met her husband-to-be there in 1962, she told USA Today.

“I thought he was the finest thing walking on the campus,” Darlene told the HBCU’s campus magazine in 2014. The duo knew they would marry each other the moment they met and began dating shortly after. But Darlene’s track coach noticed that she was spending most of her time with her boyfriend. Her coach gave Darlene, who was training to go to the 1964 Olympics, an ultimatum: the track team or John. Darlene chose John.


She finished her freshman year with 25 credits and married John in 1963. Her husband graduated in 1964 and began working. Darlene took care of the household and was a stay-at-home mother to their two children; a son and daughter.

The family lived in six states over the years, due to John’s successful career in business. Darlene told the campus outlet that she eventually began a career in retail and cosmetology as their children grew older.

Although she remained busy, she always longed to finish school – a feeling which intensified when the couple would visit the HBCU for homecomings and other celebrations.“Something kept nagging at me,” she said. “I always told my children to make sure they finish what they started and I kind of felt it was time to live up to my own advice.”

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