Grandmother of 11 Earns MBA at Age 59

A 59-year-old mother who homeschooled all of her four children returned to school 37 years after her college graduation to obtain a master's degree in business. This is her inspiring story. 

She’s 59 and recently earned an MBA. For Qadirah Bridgeman, mother of four and grandmother of 11, it was a “confidence booster.”

WHEN LIFE GOT IN THE WAY

There was a time when life got in the way of Qadirah dreams. After graduating from Adelphi College at 22, she intended to pursue law school but was forced to forego that to raise a family. Qadira got pregnant, got married, and soon, she was tending to four children, seeing to their education by homeschooling them.

“We lived in a small town, and I wanted to make sure that my kids got the proper education that they needed,” she told T-Mobile’s Newsroom.

With her own dreams on hold, Qadirah juggled her time between educating her children at home and working part-time at a call center. Eventually, she secured a job at T-Mobile where she worked her way up from a regular representative to a senior expert, the job she holds today at the company’s Team of Experts division.

You know how you feel like your life is just going to go on and everything is going to be fine, then something like that hits you? And you’re like, ‘Whoa.’ You become timid almost about certain things.

WHEN TRAGEDY HELD HER BACK

While her kids went on to complete their education, (she homeschooled them up until they finished high school) Qadirah still felt a calling to pursue further education. But as she contemplated the thought, a tragedy held her back. Her older son died five years ago and it clouded her judgment as well as it depleted her confidence.

“That was a major setback for me. You know how you feel like your life is just going to go on and everything is going to be fine, then something like that hits you? And you’re like, ‘Whoa.’ You become timid almost about certain things. You kind of want to close in on yourself. I came right back to work, but it was really hard to get life moving again.”

WHEN THE TIMING WAS RIGHT

However, that mindset slowly changed when Qadirah stumbled upon T-Mobile’s Tuition Assistance program during one of its annual employees benefits fair. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for her since she was done schooling her children. “There’s nothing else going on in my life right now that is really stopping me,” she said. 

It was a remarkable moment for Qaridah when she took the stage to receive her diploma on graduation day. Her 81-year-old parents were there to witness it along with her children who’ve been inspired by it.

WHEN HER DREAM BECAME A REALITY

So she decided to push forward and enroll in an online master’s degree program in order to attain an advanced business degree, something she could make use of in her job at T-Mobile.

And finally, in November, Qadirah graduated and secured her MBA from Ashford University with the help of T-Mobile’s 100% tuition assistance. 

It was a remarkable moment for Qaridah when she took the stage to receive her diploma on graduation day. Her 81-year-old parents were there to witness it along with her children who’ve been inspired by it. All three of them have a bright future thanks to their mother. One is on her way to law school, the other is studying in the field of medicine and another is a surgical tech. 

“I think the step toward education was a real confidence-booster. I walk with my chest higher.”

WHEN THE FUTURE PROMISES MORE

As for Qadirah who now has 11 grandchildren, her confidence is at its highest and she’s setting her sights for more. 

“I would love to go back for another degree, especially now I know I can do it, I know how to do it.”

She also imparts,

“I think the step toward education was a real confidence-booster. I walk with my chest higher.”

WHEN IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN

Qadirah’s journey is an inspiring story that reminds us it’s never too late to obtain an education because learning is lifelong. This was the same lesson taught to us by Janet Fein who decided to pursue further studies after retiring from her job. At 84 years old, she obtained a bachelor’s degree because she said she had nothing to do after retirement. “I did not think playing bingo was up to the task,” she reasoned. 

Janet was ultimately happy with her decision to go back to school despite the setbacks of aging. She managed to complete her studies through online classes because her knees were too weak to take her to school. 

She’s now a graduate of University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. 

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