Vietnam War veteran Timothy Brown dropped out of California college in the 1960s because of work. But the 77-year-old still had his mind on eventually re-enrolling. And fittingly, the septuagenarian recently realized that dream after graduating with a degree in drama from South Carolina State University.
In an interview with CBS News, Brown said he originally enrolled at a local school in South Carolina for a semester. But in 2018, he discovered a program designed for veterans to help them get back to college. Through the program, Brown, then 73, was admitted to South Carolina State University where he majored in drama.
“I sit in class with my grandchildren. I always told them, ‘Hey, you know, you’re my grandchildren.’ You know, they’re in their early twenties and here I’m about 70,” he recalled. “But it was really good. I mean, I had no problems adapting. They welcomed me very well, so everything went well.
The 77-year-old also said going back to school gave him the opportunity to experience new things. One of them was acting.
“I think what’s happened – actually, I know now what’s happened – is that sometimes you have a talent inside and you don’t even know you have the talent,” Brown said. “I had the talent inside, but I didn’t even know I had acting talent inside of me.”
Brown’s course required him to take acting and playwriting classes. One of his requirements for graduation also included writing a play. For this, the 77-year-old decided to write about a real experience where he traveled thousands of miles to witness the last walk of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, CBS News reported.
“It’s a true story where we actually drove a church bus… from Los Angeles all the way to DC for Dr. King’s last walk,” Brown recalled. “When he finished his speech that day, he came down from the podium and we got in his way. So we got to shake his hand and I got to take a snapshot of him and my pastor.
“So it was a journey and an enriching experience because we never imagined having this opportunity to shake hands with the man,” he added.
And although Brown graduated, he said he hoped his play wouldn’t be shelved because he wanted the university to bring it to life through a real production. The septuagenarian also said he would like to be part of the production.
“I believe in my heart that we need to get this out there so the younger generation, the young people, can see this and say, ‘Okay, our ancestors, some of those who came before us made a lot of sacrifices so we could have those freedoms and the equality that we have,” Brown said.
“I think if they could actually see that, and if we could hit two or three of them, I think it would be worth it. Just so they can appreciate what we’ve been through so they have an easier day.