Cal State Dominguez Hills student makes history as one of the oldest graduates with a double major – Daily Breeze

It’s never too late to get an education, and a Cal State Dominguez Hills graduate set out to prove it.

On the first day of the school’s opening ceremonies earlier this week, Maria Manning, a double major in Spanish Liberal Studies and Public Services, was among students in classes 2020 and 2021 to graduate at Dignity Health Sports Park. Manning did so at 88 – making her one of the oldest students in the Cal State University system to graduate with a double major.

But his road to success has seen many setbacks along the way.

Manning, originally from the Cape Verde Islands in West Africa, immigrated to America with his family at the age of 31.

Manning had wanted to study in his home country, his daughter, Christine Manning, said.

But after she married her husband, John Manning, and had a daughter, her education was put on the back burner.

“I wanted to earn my education,” Manning said. “But I had to take care of my family.”

And that’s what she did, raising her daughter and helping her with her own schooling.

Then, in the early 1990s, Manning enrolled in classes at Compton Adult School and eventually transferred to Compton College and then to CSUDH. She has also worked in many local schools in the Compton and Long Beach areas. But her husband then fell ill and she had her own health issues which brought her to the hospital.

His academic career was once again cut short.

Manning’s husband died in 2010.

  • Maria Manning, 88, Cal State Dominguez Hills graduate at Dignity Health Sports Park Monday, May 24. artistic diplomas in Spanish liberal studies and public services. (Courtesy of Christine Manning)

  • Maria Manning, 88, Cal State Dominguez Hills graduate at Dignity Health Sports Park Monday, May 24. artistic diplomas in Spanish liberal studies and public services. (Courtesy of Christine Manning)

  • Maria Manning, 88, Cal State Dominguez Hills graduate at Dignity Health Sports Park Monday, May 24. artistic diplomas in Spanish liberal studies and public services. (Courtesy of Christine Manning)

Manning had dropped out of all her classes at CSUDH, discouraged by the setbacks. His hiatus lasted a dozen years.

Then she returned to work.

“I didn’t let that stop me,” she said of herself and her husband’s health issues. “My work was not going to go down the drain.”

And now she’s made her family proud – especially her daughter.

“It’s the most beautiful thing,” Christine Manning said. “I can’t even say how proud I am of her.

Her daughter, however, was not alone in her enthusiasm.

During his time at CSUDH, Manning became a popular figure among his peers – many of whom were much younger – and even among faculty.

“Everyone was so nice to me,” Manning said. “They have been very helpful and encouraging to me.”

Employees at the campus food court sometimes paid for his meals. And faculty members helped her with her studies, recognizing a student who persevered despite the setbacks she faced.

“After the ceremony, people would come running up to her saying, ‘Remember me? Said Christine Manning. “She was always talking about the names of friends she had made on campus.”

Manning was a constant in his classes – never wanting to be away. Not if it was raining. Not if Manning’s daughter couldn’t drive her – she would take a cab or a bus instead.

Not even when she had to start using a walker to get around.

“You can’t hold an umbrella when you are pushing a walker,” Christine Manning said. “So I had to buy him a poncho for when it was raining.”

And now Manning has a bachelor’s degree – finally.

Yet she still has other plans for the future. Another lifelong dream that she now wants to accomplish is learning to play an instrument. She hasn’t decided which one yet, but, Manning said, she has always been interested in learning to play the piano, or even the organ.

“She is proof that with a healthy mind and determination, anything is possible despite age,” said Christine Manning. “I am so proud to be his daughter.”

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