The older you get, the more you realize that not everyone is on the same schedule in life — and that’s totally OK! Way Bandy is 81 years old, and on Dec. 15, the grandfather of eight graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in general studies, proving that it’s never too late to achieve your goals.
Bandy, who was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and who now resides in St. Petersburg, Florida, studied at Samford University as well as the University of Alabama and the University of South Florida in the years after high school, but he never completed his degree. Instead, he left college life behind to get married and have children.
Although he had a successful career in aerospace and did indeed marry and have three children, Bandy had made a promise to his mother — who died in 2003 — to finish his education. And he was determined to make good on that promise.
When he gathered his transcripts together, he discovered that he only needed to complete one more class in order to graduate. He went on to earn a “B” in a biology course focused on wetland environments, thus allowing him to achieve a lifelong goal.
USF took to Twitter on Dec. 10 to congratulate Bandy on his accomplishment:
When #USFgrad 🎓 Way Bandy was in college, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 and “Grease” was a box office smash.
Now, at age 81 – fulfilling a promise he made years ago – Bandy will receive a diploma more than 50 years in the making. 👉 https://t.co/GQyyWzRlxx pic.twitter.com/t2X06dRZWR
— University of South Florida (@USouthFlorida) December 10, 2019
“My mother, bless her heart… the thing she drilled into me as a child was, ‘The two of the most important things are your health and your word of honor,'” Bandy told “Good Morning America.” “I want your word of honor that one day you’ll go back and get your degree.'”
While there were moments in which Bandy wanted to give up, in the end, he hopes his perseverance will serve as inspiration for others to make their dreams a reality.
Bandy has three children and his youngest son, Kyle, was there on the day of his dad’s graduation to cheer him on.
“I think it’s fantastic that he’s following through with his word and being a man of honor following through with a promise,” Kyle told CNN.
Bandy says his success story proves that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“No matter how long it takes, if it’s a promise, if it’s a desire, find a way [to] do it,” he told CNN. “If I can do it, anybody can. I’m living proof it can be done.”