Bonnie Brockway

Bonnie J. Brockway - Associate in Arts Degree

Gramma Goes to College

Bonnie Brockway - Associate in Arts DegreeBonnie Brockway - Associate in Arts Degree Bonnie J. Brockway, a 72-years-young great-grandma and soon-to-be college graduate, was a bit worried when she went back to school at age 70. She wondered if the professors and students at Mesa Community College would think of her as merely an old lady taking a break from her knitting, not a serious student.

She soon learned, however, that she had no need to worry.“The students and professors were wonderful,” Brockway said. “I have made such great friends.Some of them call me mom; some of them call me grandma. Going back to college has enriched my life no end. I do love to knit, but I’d rather go to school.”

Brockway’s desire to go to college began in Wisconsin in 1959. Her plans for college wereput on hold as she married at 17, raised four kids and divorced 22 years later. During that time she worked as a secretary at a two-year college, a deputy clerk for the State Bar of Arizona, an executive secretary at General Dynamics and a technical writer for Motorola. She pursued her love of writing throughout the years. Brockway’s writing has been published in national magazines and Wisconsin newspapers, including the Crawford County Independent, The Vernon County Broadcaster and the La Crosse Tribune. She now blogs for a marketing company and works for Maricopa Community College’s Chair Academy. Even with these successes, the lack of a college degree weighed heavily upon her mind. “I always wanted to earn a degree,” said Brockway, who now lives in Tempe. “It was one goal I didn’t want to let go of.”

So, at the age of 70, she took what she calls a “leap of faith” and enrolled at MCC. She loved it immediately.

“I felt very comfortable at MCC,” Brockway said. “The energy and educational atmosphere gave me life, gave me breath.”

Brockway names Josh Rathkamp’s poetry class as her favorite and Rathkamp her favorite instructor.

“His creative writing classes tap into all my creative juices,” said Brockway, who received an honorable mention in a recent writing competition at MCC. “I enjoy them so much.”

Her proudest moment so far has been the induction ceremony into Phi Theta Kappa honor society.“I cried through half the ceremony,” she said. “I can’t believe at my age that I have attained such an honor.”

She will graduate with an associate’s degree in May and plans to transfer to Northern Arizona University’s Extended Campuses Program to earn her bachelor’s degree in creative writing.

Brockway jokes that her friends will fill an entire section of the bleachers during the commencement ceremony at MCC. She is filled with pride at the thought of walking across the stage.

“To walk across the stage with my cap and gown and PTK honor ribbons and finally hear Pomp and Circumstance is going to be the highlight of my entire life, except when my kids were born,” she said. “Even though it took all this time, it will be such a sense of fulfillment. What I really wanted all my life, I will have now.”