Local Army vet becomes college grad at 60

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida military veteran took a major step on his lifelong journey of learning: He graduated from college at age 60.

Philip Rolle considers his degree from Broward College a major milestone, as he prepares for a new career while most people his age might be looking forward to retirement.

He’s served in the armed forces and even qualified for the U.S. Olympics more than 30 years ago, but for Rolle, earning his Bachelor of Applied Science in Supply Chain Management is his crowning achievement, one he has waited more than 40 years to experience.

7News cameras captured Rolle in cap and gown as his name was called at the graduation ceremony held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, Wednesday afternoon.

Rolle was unable to stop the tears when asked how he felt when he finished his coursework. “When I submitted my last assignment, it was a feeling I didn’t expect to have, but I known I was going to have a feeling, and that’s what I got, so…”

His voice trailed off as he broke down.

It has taken longer than most for this grandfather to complete his studies because sometimes life gets in the way.

Rolle’s college career began at Florida State University, where he ran track and earned a scholarship. “When I saw the opportunity to just train specifically for the Olympics by being in the military, that’s when I left school to join the military,” he said.

While running track for the military, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic team for the 1980 games, but that was the year the U.S. boycotted the games in Moscow.

Rolle returned to school, but a car accident left him so badly hurt that he was no longer able to run track, and he had to leave school again.

“Everything that happened was meant to happen because it happened,” he said, “so you just have to ride it out, and when the opportunity presents itself again, take advantage of it.”

That is exactly what happened, and that is exactly what Rolle did.

Now that he’s earned his degree, he is ready to get to work in the field of supply chain management, something he learned in the military.

Despite his prior familiarity with the field, Rolle said his studies were no picnic. “I tell you, it was challenging,” he said. “It was a challenge. It was a struggle, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone wait until they’re about 60 to do it, but it just worked out that way.”

One of Rolle’s professors told 7News his dedication was a constant source of inspiration. “Having somebody like Phillip as a role model is a great experience for anybody, including myself,” she said.

Rolle is now hoping to join the workforce in his field. In addition to his background, he worked as an intern with Broward Public Schools.

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