I Define Success: Delores “GG” Eldora Johnson

gg-johnson-ids-quote2.pngAt 87 years young, Delores Eldora Johnson is proof that you are truly never too old to get your degree.

Delores, or “GG” as she is known around campus, is an inspiration to all who know her.

“You don’t have to call me Miss Johnson, I’m a student just like you are,” she tells her fellow classmates.

GG is graduating May 2017 for the third time from Ivy Tech Community College, with an Associate of Arts degree. She has also earned an Associate of Science degree in Human Services and a Technical Certificate in Early Childhood Education. Additionally, she has two degrees from IUPUI.

What drives GG to be a lifelong learner? As a young girl with seven brothers and sisters, GG was put into foster care after her father left. At the age of 13, GG was told by her adopted mother that she could not go back to school– that she needed to “grow up” and start working.
“Every time I get ready to drop out, I hear ‘It’s time to grow up’ and I jump back in school. I’m scared to grow up.”

Throughout GG’s life, she had a tough road. From doing manual labor, to facing discrimination as an African American taxi dispatcher, to surviving throat cancer, she has lived through more than most of her classmates. She is also very open about having struggled with alcoholism for many years, and is now happy to report 30 years of sobriety.

GG_IDS_2.pngDetermined to get her education, GG earned her GED in 1990 and set her sights on higher education. She fondly remembers the day she was accepted into college.

“Oh my goodness, when they told me I’m a college student! I’m a what? Believe me, that was a day in my life and I cannot forget that day!”

She earned her first college degree at the age of 74 and has not stopped since. In fact, GG plans to continue her studies after graduating from Ivy Tech for the third time, likely pursuing a degree in philosophy.

“People tell me they come here because they heard about me. That inspires me to keep going.”

GG is an active volunteer and community member in Indianapolis and literally has binders full of accomplishments. Her volunteer work includes Unicef, American Cancer Society, Wishard volunteers with Ezkenazi Health, and Indy Reads to name a few. She is also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Ivy Tech and is involved with student life.

GG calls Ivy Tech Community College her second home, and for good reason.

“It is a wonderful, wonderful, community college. At Ivy Tech we are a mutual admiration society.”

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