60-year-old Bronx woman will be first of six siblings to earn college degree

NEW YORK — College wasn’t an option for a now 60-year-old Bronx woman when she graduated from high school in the 1970s, but on Wednesday she’ll become the first of her six siblings to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Rachel Ticotin decided when she was 53 to go back to school. She applied to Columbia’s School of General Studies, which serves students who interrupted their education, never went to college and can attend only part time.

“[It] makes you feel like you’ve climbed Mt. Everest,” she said about graduating. “But I could do this for the rest of my life. Going to college in your 50s is a gift.”

School was a change of pace for Ticotin. She spent the years after high school working as an actress.

“When I graduated from high school I was 16 years old and it just wasn’t possible to go to college,” she said. “I was one of six siblings, and in my family, taking out loans was not something you did.”

Instead, she babysat and worked as an usher to pay for acting lessons. Ticotin went on to appear in “Fort Apache,” “Man on Fire,” Con Air,” Something’s Gotta Give” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”

On Wednesday, she’ll be able to add a new accomplishment to her resume: college graduate.

“It has been one of the greatest experiences in my life, and may be the greatest accomplishment of my life,” she said.

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