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Octogenarian in Kansas enrolls in college, named homecoming queen

October 18, 2013

It's become increasingly common to see older adults return to the classroom. They head back to school for many reasons - to earn a degree, social engagement and mental stimulation, to name a few. No matter what their reasons may be, there's no denying that continuing education is a growing trend. A Kansas woman recently added a new wrinkle to lifelong learning. At MidAmerica Nazarene University, 82-year-old Frances Wood was named the school's homecoming queen, CBS affiliate KCTV reported.

Wood, nicknamed Granny Franny by the students, should serve as an example of how to pursue a healthy lifestyle for seniors. She returned to school after her husband passed away, and it wasn't because she was interested in being promoted at work or earning a degree, but rather to stay mentally sharp and active.

"I was beginning to get just a little lonely and depressed," Wood told KCTV. "I needed something different to do and believe me, this is different. I thought is this really real, am I really doing this."

The octogenarian's selection as homecoming queen did not come as much of surprise to many students. Wood is among the most popular figures on campus, with students saying she often plays a grandmotherly role, the news channel noted.

While not every elderly student will be named homecoming king or queen, seniors who follow in Wood's footsteps are certainly doing themselves a big favor. There are numerous benefits to pursuing education in retirement, U.S. News and World Report notes. Learning and studying tends to keep the mind sharp and clear, even as people grow older. Returning to the classroom also provides seniors the chance to indulge their intellectual pursuits they may not have the opportunity to enjoy earlier in their lives.