November 22, 1911
Jetmore, Kansas, U.S.
|Died||December 9, 2016
Dodge City, Kansas, U.S.
|Education||Dodge City Community College|
|Alma mater||Fort Hays State University|
|Known for||World's oldest college graduate|
|Spouse(s)||Vernon Ochs (m. ????–1972; his death)|
Nola Ochs (née Hill) (November 22, 1911 – December 9, 2016) was an American women, from Jetmore, Kansas who was certified by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest college graduate, in 2007, aged 95.
A native of Jetmore, Kansas, Ochs was born in 1911 and took her first college class from FHSU in 1930, when the university was called the Kansas State College. Nola and her husband Vernon Ochs raised four sons (who have given her 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren) on the family farm. She took college courses again from Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Kansas after her husband of 39 years died in 1972. After learning that she was only 30 hours shy of a bachelor’s degree, Nola moved 100 miles from the family farm to an FHSU university apartment in Hays to finish her degree. During her first year at Fort Hays State University, Ochs told news reporters that after she graduated, she wanted to be a storyteller on a cruise ship. One of her sons died in 1995. Another son, Marion J. Ochs, died on March 15, 2016 at the age of 72.
On May 14, 2007, Ochs became a Guinness World Record holder as the world's oldest college graduate when she received her diploma at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kansas. She earned a general studies degree with an emphasis in history, graduating alongside her granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs, who was 21 years old at the time.
Among her accomplishments, Ochs was named the 2007 Kansas Woman Leader of the Year and was given her diploma by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Features on Ochs aired on The Early Show, MSNBC, and CBS News among others. She even earned a spot on The Tonight Show one week after she graduated, sharing a laugh with Jay Leno. After graduation, Princess Cruises hired her as a guest lecturer on a nine-day Caribbean cruise. She shared the adventure with her granddaughter Alexandra.
After taking time to help with the family wheat harvest, Ochs started pursuing her master’s degree in liberal studies from Fort Hays State University in August 2007. She received her master's on May 15, 2010, making her the oldest recipient of a master's degree at age 98. According to an August 11, 2006 press release from FHSU, Ochs said “I don't keep track of my age, but I can tell you I was born in November of 1911.” She also commented, “I've led a long, interesting life. We went through the dust storms. We had some difficult times in our marriage, financially. But it's been the Lord's will that I've lived this long life, and I thank Him kindly for it.” As of her 100th birthday in November 2011 she was an M.A. student at FHSU and a graduate teaching assistant. Ochs died on December 9, 2016 at the age of 105.
- Phyllis Turner, the second oldest person to have received a master's degree
- Stephen P. Morse, San Francisco, Obtaining Birthdays in One Step (birthdatabase.com)
- "94-year-old travels thru most of century toward FHSU degree", Fort Hays State University, 11 August 2006.
- American Profile: The World's Oldest College Graduate". Retrieved October 14, 2008
- "Meet A True College Senior, Nola Ochs Is Earning Her Bachelor’s At 95 Years Old—Alongside Her Granddaughter", CBS News, 11 May 2007.
- "Woman, 95, set to be oldest college graduate", MSNBC, Associated Press, 27 April 2007.
- "95-Year-Old Woman Graduates from College", ABC News. Retrieved October 14, 2008
- Staff (2016-03-18). "Marion Ochs Obituary". Dodge City Daily Globe. Retrieved 2016-09-06.
- Corcoran, Nicole. History Being Made by Kansas Women, 13 March 2007.
- "95 Year Old College Graduate Nola Ochs, Jay Leno", 21 May 2007.
- "Nola Ochs Turns 100", Retrieved February 17, 2013
- "Oldest FHSU graduate Ochs dies at 105". Juno Ogle. The Hays Daily News. December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.