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Plymouth woman follows dream to earn college degree 50 years after high school

WSBT 22

50 years after graduating high school one local woman is finally getting her college degree.

But her journey hasn't been easy after life dealt her a tough hand.

At almost 70-years-old, Vicki Heckaman is following her dreams of getting into medical billing. She's just a few months away from graduating and crossing the stage at commencement.

"I prove something to myself basically more than anything in the world you know that I can still do it after,” she said.

Heckaman says she's not living life on what she would've done but what she can do now.

"I've been in the chair for about eight years but then I decided that I needed to do something with my life and said I feel sorry for me so I went back to school,” said Heckaman.

She has Cerebral Palsy. In June 2016, she enrolled in Ultimate Medical Academy's online course and has been working tirelessly under the eye of her caretaker.

"I think what Vicky's doing is absolutely amazing. To not limit her life on physical limitations or mental limitations, emotional limitations-- she has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's so much more in life to give, so much more to see, so much more to do, opposed to sitting back and just saying this is it,” said Heckaman’s Caretaker, Tia Slone.

It hasn't been an easy road for her. Her husband died and three weeks later, her mother was killed in a murder-suicide near Tri-Way in Plymouth.

"Sort of went downhill for a little bit because that was pretty devastating to me and after that point I just thought OK this is enough feeling sorry for yourself you don't have to be that way,” Heckaman said.

She's on the Dean's List and is graduating eight months early because she took on extra classes.

"My husband would really be excited and I know my second husband, he knew that I started the course but he passed away in December. So I'm sure he would really be pleased. My mom would be ecstatic,” she said.

Showing us all that no matter what age or ability-- life is about living.

"She has shown me that even when the cards get dealt hard that you can still come out on top. There is still a way so even though you have kind of those dark moments in life where everything seems really overwhelming, that you look for that light and you seek that light because it'll be there,” said Slone.

Heckaman and her family don't have the funds to get her to her graduation in Tampa. A GoFundMe Page has been started so she can attend.

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