WILKES-BARRE, Pa. and MESA, Ariz., June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If you want to know the secret to longevity, 91-year-old Anna Arnett of Chandler, Ariz., might have the answer. When she recently completed her master's degree in creative writing from Wilkes University, she became the school's oldest graduate in its 83-year history. She says that pursuing an advanced degree after her 90th birthday kept her young.
"Finding Wilkes has added years to my life," says "Miss Anna," as her Wilkes classmates call her.
The degree is the latest achievement in a life that reads like a novel. The energetic senior has raised a family of seven, directed and taught in a school for pregnant teens in the Mesa, Ariz., school district and been the wife of an Air Force pilot. She's moved 29 times, living in 16 states, Australia and Japan.
A member of the World War II generation, Arnett's memoir, Forever Endeavor, was written as her creative thesis in the Wilkes program. It covers the story of her parents' early life in Utah as educators and farmers. The memoir includes details of her own life being raised in the Mormon faith and growing up on a farm.
"They were real pioneers," she says of her parents. "My mother was born in 1886…on a cattle ranch in a two-room log cabin with a dirt floor and a dirt roof. But a nice fireplace."
Arnett's faculty mentor in the program was J. Michael Lennon, Wilkes professor emeritus of English and author of the acclaimed biography Norman Mailer: A Double Life.
Lennon lauds his student's accomplishments, saying, "Working with Anna has been a distinct and unusual pleasure. She is a superb writer with an eye like a pair of tweezers for the telling detail."
The memoir written for her master's degree thesis is the second in what Arnett envisions as a series of books about her extraordinary life. An earlier volume focused on her marriage to her late husband, Charles, who died in March 2008, his career as an Air Force pilot that ended in 1968, and raising their large family, which now includes 28 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren.
While many her age might consider earning a master's degree as one more item to check off the bucket list, Arnett sees it as just one more stop on her journey. This summer she begins work on her master of fine arts degree.
About Wilkes University:
Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university is on a mission to create one of the great small universities, offering all of the programs, activities, and opportunities of a large, research university in the intimate, caring, and mentoring environment of a small, liberal arts college. The Economist has named the University 25th in the nation for the value of its education to graduates. Learn more at www.wilkes.edu/oldestgrad
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SOURCE Wilkes University