Rep. Kelly Honors 80-Year-Old Butler County College Graduate on House Floor

May 16, 2018
Rep. Kelly Honors 80-Year-Old Butler County College Graduate on House Floor


WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives this morning to pay tribute to William “Don” Thomas of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, for becoming the oldest student to ever graduate from Butler County Community College (BC3). Rep. Kelly’s statement was subsequently entered into the Congressional Record; an official copy of the statement is scheduled to be presented to Mr. Thomas.

Text of Rep. Kelly’s floor tribute as prepared for delivery:

“This morning I would like to recognize one of my constituents in Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District: Mr. William ‘Don’ Thomas, who will make history this evening when he becomes the oldest student to ever graduate from Butler County Community College, also known as BC3.

“Mr. Thomas began taking classes at BC3 in the fall of 2010, and this evening, at 80 years old, he will proudly receive an Associate of Arts degree in History.

“Furthermore, Thomas also represents the most senior graduate in the Class of 2018 among our state’s four other western institutions within the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.

“Mr. Thomas is an American veteran who honorably served our country as an Airman Second Class with the 17th Squadron. While serving in France from 1956 to 1959, Mr. Thomas enrolled in classes provided by the University of Maryland, held outside the northeastern French town where he was stationed, where he earned 28 credits.

“All these years later, following a successful life and career, Mr. Thomas decided to enroll at BC3 in order to finish the degree he started back in 1956.

“Mr. Thomas credits much of his academic success to BC3, which has been rated the top community college in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in back-to-back surveys. BC3 President Dr. Nick Neupauer is beyond proud of Mr. Thomas and believes his accomplishment is symbolic for the entire community college.

“Additionally, Mr. Thomas receives an abundance of love, support, and encouragement from his beloved wife Nancy, his six children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“Mr. Thomas was not a traditional college student. He inevitably faced obstacles along the way, but regardless of the circumstances, he never abandoned his goal of earning his degree.

“Mr. Thomas reminds all of us that with faith, hard work, and determination, anything is possible.

“Mr. Thomas embodies the spirit of a lifelong learner and is a living testament to the saying, “If there is a will, there is a way.”

“His unwavering dedication and perseverance in pursuit of his dream is not only inspiring and amazing—it is quintessentially American.

“I am so blessed to be able to congratulate him on a job well done and count him as one our district’s finest constituents.

“To Mr. Thomas, I say: Happy Graduation Day!”

BACKGROUND: Read more about Mr. Thomas’ story here.