Some students take four years to finish college. Some take about six. Some never complete a degree.

And then there’s the case of Harriet Richardson Ames, a retired New Hampshire schoolteacher. Ames earned her bachelor’s degree some 81 years after she started college. According to an article in the Washington Post:

Ames, who turned 100 on Jan. 2, had earned a two-year teaching certificate in 1931 at Keene Normal School, now Keene State College. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse in South Newbury, and later spent 20 years as a teaching principal at Memorial School in Pittsfield, where she taught first-graders.

Through the years, she had taken classes at the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth Teachers College and Keene State to earn credits for her degree. With her eyesight failing, she stopped after retiring in 1971 and was never sure if she had enough credits.

The school decided to research her coursework and see if it could award Ames her long-sought diploma. The offices of the provost, registrar and other departments worked quickly in the last month to determine, that indeed, it could.

Keene State awarded Ames her diploma on Friday, January 22, 2010. Ames died the next day.

The New Hampshire Union Leader carries her obituary here.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer