GA man, 88, achieves dream of graduating college

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A Barnesville, Georgia man recently proved it's never too late to achieve your dreams. 

Horace Sheffield, more commonly known as "Pop," has become an internet sensation after graduating from college at 88-years-old. 

Mr. Sheffield graduated from high school in 1959 and enrolled at Shorter University in Rome in 1961; however, he never was able finish college and left in 1965. At the time, his oldest daughter, Judy, was about to begin college herself. 

"My grandfather and grandmother were married young," Sheffield's granddaughter, Jill Brazier, told FOX 5 News. "They had kids and he ended up dropping out to help educate his own children." 

Horace and Bernice Sheffield had three children together, five grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

"He's a family man," Brazier said. "He took care of my grandma, grandkids and great-grandkids, but now it's time to focus on himself." 

Brazier describes her Pop as an incredibly determined man, so she wasn't surprised when he told her he wanted to go back to school and earn his college degree. 

"That's one thing in his life that he had never finished," she said.

Sheffield enrolled at Shorter University two years ago and was able to pick right back up where he left off, with 115 hours of study. Not only was his tuition free, but he was able to take all of his classes online. 

According to Brazier, Amanda Brannock, who attends their church, played a huge role in helping him graduate. Sheffield had a week to complete assignments, which he would write down on paper. Then, Brannock helped him by typing them up and submitting them online. 

"She's so proud," Brazier said. "We are very thankful for her." 

Following countless hours of hard work, Sheffield earned his Bachelors of Science in Christian Studies and was a proud member of the 2017 graduating class. 

"We are very, very proud of him," Brazier said. "It's been a long time coming." 

Ahead of his graduation, photographer and family friend Donna Flournoy offered to take photos of Pop at Calvary Baptist Church, where he serves as an honorary senior pastor. He's now retired, but used to work as Director of Missions for the Georgia Baptist Convention. 

"The church has always been his life," Brazier said.

The photos that Flournoy captured were shared on Facebook, and quickly went viral.  

"He was so cute," Flournoy told FOX 5. "You can't help but fall in love with him." 

One of the photos included the 88-year-old holding a picture of his beloved bride, who passed away five years ago. 

"Granny would be so excited for him," Brazier said. 

Pop graduated last Friday, May 5, with 30 of his proud family members sitting in the two front to rows.

"The gym went nuts. Everyone stood up, cheered and hollered," Brazier recalled. "It was very emotional. We were all covered in chills. We were all in tears."

Following the ceremony, the school offered for the family to use its banquet room for a catered reception in Sheffield's honor. 

"It was a day that can't be replaced," Brazier said. 

Now that he's done with college, Pop will continue enjoying retirement, spending time with family, remaining active at his church and preparing for his 89th birthday in two weeks. 

NEXT: 15-year-old graduates college ahead of high school