Naomi Roberson. Courtesy photo

At 77, Naomi Roberson accomplished a goal many people only dream of: she graduated from college.

Roberson, who earned her bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Next Dimension University, a private school based in Rancho Cucamonga, said she struggled to finished college because of her health.

“I always wanted to go to school, but I had a sleep disorder. I could never stay awake in class. I could never get above a C,” Roberson said. “I went to San Diego City College a couple of times, but I couldn’t stay awake. That problem wasn’t solved until I was 50 years old.”

The problem, she said, was solved with the help of St. Paul’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, a free health care plan for local seniors. With the nonprofit’s help, Roberson said she graduated from school in three years with honors.

“St. Paul’s PACE made me healthy enough to be able to go to school,” Roberson said. “With St. Paul’s PACE I can take care of myself. I am somebody now. St. Paul’s PACE isn’t just a medical facility. They take care of all your needs.”

But, it wasn’t just the sleep disorder Roberson had to overcome. She said she had knee issues from driving a Greyhound bus for more than 10 years.

“I had a baker’s cyst in the back of one knee and permanent damage in the other knee from bumping my knee so hard when I got on the bus,” Roberson said. “I didn’t get physical therapy until I got to St. Paul’s PACE.

“I have glasses now. I have partial dentures. My toe feels good now – I had a couple of corns that bothered me all the time. I have made so many friends here at St. Paul’s PACE – they are my family. I come every Tuesday, and I look forward to seeing everybody. I have nothing to worry about.”

Roberson, a native of Texas, said her next goal is to earn a master’s degree.

“I don’t plan to stop,” said Roberson, a grandmother of 18 kids and great grandmother of nine. “Why go this far and then stop? It just takes three years. I want to keep going. Since I can stay awake, I want to go to school until I go all the way.

“Graduating from college is the best thing I could do for my children and grandchildren,” Roberson said. “I am giving them hope to achieve their goals. If grandma can graduate from college at 77 years old, they can do it too.”

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