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72-Year-Old Graduates College, with 99-Year-Old Mom Cheering On!



Quick Smiles:

  • Late Bloomer: At 72, Sam Kaplan walked across the stage with a Cinema and Media Arts degree.
  • Cheering Section: His 99-year-old mother celebrated every step with him, cheering him on with gusto.
  • First in Family: Despite being the eldest of seven siblings, Kaplan’s college degree was a family first.

It’s never too late for new beginnings, and Sam Kaplan of Lawrenceville, Georgia is the perfect testament to that.

At an age when most folks are reminiscing, Sam donned the cap and gown on May 11th to receive a well-deserved college degree.

Amidst a sea of fresh-faced students, Kaplan proudly received his undergraduate degree in Cinema and Media Arts from George Gwinnett College.

And there, celebrating this significant milestone was his 99-year-old mother, cheering for her son’s incredible achievement.

Having graduated from high school way back in 1969, Kaplan dived straight into the workforce, never imagining college in his cards. His journey led him through diverse paths; from running a cleaning service to driving a taxi part-time.

However, destiny took a turn on a fateful drive.

“I’m the first of my seven siblings to earn a degree,” Kaplan recalls. “I was riding down 316 and heard on the radio that Georgia Gwinnett College was offering a degree that involved script writing.”


The rest? It’s history.

“My car seemed to have developed automatic steering and I pulled off on Collins Hill Road. Five minutes later, I was registering for the fall semester.”

Returning to college life wasn’t a walk in the park. Kaplan struggled with study habits and adapting to student life again.

His solution? Connecting with one student daily, understanding their study techniques, aspirations, and classroom insights.

His children offered invaluable advice, but it was these daily interactions with fellow students that truly enriched his college experience.

His enthusiasm and life experiences added vibrancy to the classroom.


“Sam was always willing to share photos and stories about his interesting life and his family. We’re so proud to see him graduate, but we will miss him,” says Kate Balsley, an associate professor at the college.

With such determination and a new degree, we’re eagerly waiting to spot Sam Kaplan’s name in the credits of an upcoming film.

A story of perseverance and passion, Sam reminds us it’s never too late to chase dreams!