After enrolling at UNM at several points throughout her life, Lieberman, a liberal arts major, will graduate Friday with a 4.0 grade point average at 74 years old.
She said she decided to persevere toward a degree about six years ago, and has been taking classes since then. She was only able to afford six credit hours each semester.
“I’m very excited. I can’t believe I’m going to be a college graduate,” Lieberman said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but maybe I’ll go on to graduate school. I haven’t made that decision yet.”
Lieberman became determined to earn a degree in the 1970s, as a result of the women’s movement, she said. However, she left after a few years because of difficulties with test anxiety and out of fear of the hard sciences.
“I knew a lot of women who were going back to school,” she said. “They became real estate agents, travel agents, and some even became lawyers. And I thought, ‘well, let’s see if I can even do it.’”
Years later, Lieberman took classes at UNM’s education center at Kirtland Air Force Base. This was convenient for her, as she worked in administration at Sandia National Laboratories, which is located on the base.
Lieberman’s coworkers and husband have been her support system and have given her the confidence she needed to persist with school, she said.
“When she first started she was very uncertain about her ability,” said her husband Morton. “She had delayed going to school for many years, but when she started she did very well, and it did a great deal for her self-confidence.”
He said in the early years of their marriage she supported him while he was in graduate school in Chicago, and he returned that support when she decided to go back.
“When you go back, especially as an older student, it’s really hard to navigate,” she said. “It just took me a while, but I really made up my mind and I was going to do it. I’m not saying there weren’t times were I thought, ‘why am I doing this?’ But I just overcame that.”
Lieberman has viewed college as a way to investigate many different subjects.
“I’ve taken a lot of classes over the years that weren’t for credit and different kinds of continuing education courses,” she said. “I always say that if I’d gotten credit for all that I’d have a Ph.D. by now.”
This year she also chose to join the Association for Non-Traditional Students, which is typically for adults pursuing a career change or transfer students. ANTS has a lounge in the first floor of the Student Union Building with space for members to study, eat lunch and relax.
“It’s not really just for older students. We have people there from 20 on up through 80,” Lieberman said. “It’s a nice camaraderie ... The people are just delightful, so I’ve really enjoyed that experience. I’m a little sorry I hadn’t joined it earlier.”
Since Lieberman first attended UNM in the 1970s, she has noticed administrative changes as well changes with campus physically. The campus has become prettier in many ways, she said.
She also enjoys ballet and participates in dance regularly. The stretching and discipline that is necessary for ballet is enjoyable, she said.
“I think it’s wonderful that she’s graduating,” Morton Lieberman said. “It’s been such a long-term goal of hers. It’s important to her, and I’m happy to see her achieve her goal.”
Marielle Dent is the web editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.