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Great-grandmother works on degree at 64

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Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2008 12:00 pm | Updated: 5:00 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Jon Schroeder

Killeen Daily Herald

She's no typical student.

Andrea Brown is studying horticulture and finishing her associate degree this summer at Central Texas College in Killeen.

Of course, many other college students are doing the same thing, but most wouldn't be able to do what Brown did Tuesday; she took time to visit her fourth great-grandchild at her daughter's house in Nolanville.

At 64, Brown doesn't seem to feel her age though she's proud of her experience. She has an internship and a part-time job, along with her studies.

"My dad was 39 up until he was 86," she said with a laugh. "I can't be any older than 25."

Brown, who lives with her husband, Kent, in Turnersville in northern Coryell County, long ago learned the value of college and made sure that her children were well educated. But for her generation, college wasn't necessarily the expectation.

Her husband found that a high school diploma alone was a limiting factor in his construction career, and he went back to college in 2001 after a knee replacement.

As he was taking his last class (he studied drafting at Texas State Technical College but took a final course at CTC), Andrea took her first.

That was her only class that semester, and she's kept it light in the time since, taking 10 to 12 hours each semester. Brown might have taken more classes at once, but she's not one for all-nighters.

"It's my new adventure in life," she said. "I didn't want it to get to where it isn't fun."

Of course, in addition to her classes and part-time job with the nursing department, Brown also teaches classes at the Gatesville Public Library and for the Gatesville Boys and Girls Clubs.

She may have nine grandchildren, but Brown is also a student horticulture/youth intern at the Coryell County AgriLife Extension office, where she's receiving four hours of college credit for a 336-hour commitment this summer.

With a few advantages – "I don't care about getting on the phone and getting things done," she says – Brown has accomplished a lot this summer, including the start of a new program she helped get off the ground.

Working with the city of Gatesville and the county Extension office this summer, Brown did something most interns wouldn't. She asked for and received 4,800 pounds of flower bulbs this summer for a project at Freedom Park. She distributed them to the park, local nursing homes, the city and to clubs, along with 484 residents from around Gatesville, each of whom received a boxful of the bulbs.

"Anything you get in the box you can have," she told the hundreds who picked them up at the Extension office and watched as they carried away towering piles of the bulbs.

The bulbs, valued at about $24,000, were received at shipping cost from a wholesale company that packages bulbs. Brown hopes the program will continue next year with the added involvement of Copperas Cove.

County Extension agent Lyle Zoeller is trying to get a part-time position for her at the AgriLife Extension, and Brown is also working toward teaching junior Master Gardener classes through area school districts, training this week in Belton.

She and her husband have lived in the area since 1985. Brown has three adult, married children who live in the area: Amelia James of Killeen, Luci Stefek of Nolanville and Hurshell Brown of Burleson.

Contact Jon Schroeder at jons@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7475.

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