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You Never Stop Learning at York College of Pennsylvania

Dixie Weaver turning her tassle, December 2021 graduation
Dixie Weaver (right)

For Dixie Weaver ’21, earning her bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Sciences at age 65 was more than just following her dream.

The motivation to return to school went back generations. Dixie Weaver ’21 initially chose to major in Behavioral Sciences because she wanted to understand her family better.

Weaver and her brother grew up in a house with parents who were married for over 50 years. The siblings were born just 15 months apart and lived through many of the same experiences as children. Yet today, Weaver and her brother are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. She wanted to understand how two people with so much shared experience could hold such different beliefs.

Through her studies, Weaver learned that the root of their differences stretched back generations, to the life lessons they absorbed from spending time with their maternal grandparents, he with his grandfather and she with her grandmother. Studying Behavioral Sciences helped her listen with greater understanding to what her brother was saying about his beliefs and experiences.

One Class, Two Class, Three Class, Four

When Weaver started at York College of Pennsylvania, she didn’t plan to earn her degree. “It’s like a drug,” she says. “Once I got a couple of classes in, I thought, ‘Why not keep going?’ ”

Starting college in her fifties was more beneficial to Weaver than if she had entered right out of high school. Back then, her guidance counselor told her she would never succeed. “I never thought I was smart enough for college, because my spelling was so horrible,” she says. “I wouldn’t have thrived with pencil and paper, but computers aren’t something I’m afraid of. I love technology.”

Her family also discouraged her from going to college. After high school, Weaver’s father told her that the only reason to go to college would be to find a husband. When she decided to attend college in her fifties, her friends at work told her she was too old.

But Weaver’s husband of 46 years, Anthony J. Weaver, a 1975 graduate of York College, encouraged her to enroll. When their daughter earned her master’s degree, it was Weaver’s turn to follow her dream.     

A New Interest in the Brain

During her time at York College, Weaver developed an interest in concussions and society’s response to them. Watching youth sports and seeing parents and coaches take concussions lightly is inspiring her to dive deeper into the topic. She’s considering pursuing a Master of Sociology to further explore the subject. She hasn’t settled on what’s next, though.

One thing is certain: Weaver wants to get the word out that everyone should consider college, if only to experience something new.

“Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t change or have new experiences,” she says. “I know so many people in their fifties who would love to go back to college.”

Weaver is especially thankful to her advisor, Associate Professor Laura Steck, Ph.D., and York College President Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith for sticking with her through the ups and downs of her nontraditional school experience. Whatever lies ahead, Weaver is looking forward to sharing her story and inspiring others to dream big and tackle difficult challenges.