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90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Thankful For Education At Worcester State University

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Diane Stern is co-anchor of “The WBZ Afternoon News,” broadcast on WBZ...
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BOSTON (CBS) — As kids head back to school, some universities are seeing more “adult” learners, which they say, make the classroom experience richer for everyone.

One of the graduates of Worcester State University’s Inter-Generational Urban Institute was 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Thea Aschkenase. She graduated with honors in 2007 with a degree in urban studies.

Listen to Aschkenase tell her story to WBZ’s Diane Stern

Aschkenase and her family were forced from Munich to Fascist Italy and were later sent to Auschwitz where they had an encounter with Dr. Mengele.

State Universities in Massachusetts waive tuition for students over 60 years old.

Worcester State University is the only state school to waive tuition and fees.

Aschkenase eventually fled with her mother after the Russians arrived at Auschwitz. She settled in the Worcester-area in the 1960s.

Years later, she is now giving back to her community in central Massachusetts and savours her college degree from Worcester State.

Aschkenase now mentors teen mothers and makes sure mothers and their families have enough food to eat.

She says when she first started taking classes, she was nervous to speak because she wasn’t sure how traditional students would react.

“It was a wonderful give-and-take,” she says.

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