After brain surgery, grandma earns degree, sets sights on master's

CAYCE, SC (WIS) - A Midlands grandmother has her sights set on a master's degree now that she's earned her bachelor's at the age of 60. The road to her four-degree wasn't easy, though, she needed brain surgery to get rid of a debilitating condition that kept her from going to college in the first place.

Linda Felkel learned to play piano early in life. "I took piano for nine years," said Felkel. "I've been playing ever since."

But things have not always been so steady for her. "I had epilepsy when I was a child," said Felkel.

Her seizures were so bad that as an adult she says it kept her from going to college. So she settled for a regular 9 to 5 job.

Fed up after having seizures for the first 34 years of her life, she decided to have brain surgery to cure the disease.

"I started a new life after my surgery and when I did I said I was going to make something out of myself," said Felkel.

It would take Linda more than 20 years to get the courage to actually start working toward a college degree. She enrolled at the age of 57.

"There were so many years where I couldn't do it," said Felkel "It just took me a long time to get the nerve."

She studied full-time at Columbia College and worked part-time. Three and half years later, Linda reached her goal - a 4 year degree.

Last Saturday, the 60-year-old was brought to tears after she graduated with her bachelor's degree in psychology. "Because I was so happy, so happy, on the way home I did (cry)," said Linda.

But she's not done yet. Linda has big plans in August. "Wow, I'm getting ready to go to Winthrop for my masters degree to accomplish my second goal," said Linda.

Accomplishing that goal would make her the first person in her family with a graduate degree.

"I'm just feeling proud of her," said Felkel's daughter, Dawn Burnette. "I'm happy to be her daughter."

Felkel's granddaughter is also proud. "She has done a great job and I love her," said Torie Burnette.

"You're never too old to go back to school," said Felkel.

Linda says she wants to get her master's in social work and eventually get a job counseling abused children.

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