73-Year-Old Hampton U Alumna Joins Peace Corps

Angela Bronner Helm
Bettie Anderson, 73
The Daily Press screenshot

A 73-year-old Hampton University alumna has been accepted into the Peace Corps, proving that a meaningful, adventure-filled life doesn’t have to stop with retirement.

Bettie Anderson, who first heard of the Peace Corps in 1961 while a student at what was then called Hampton Institute, will be going to Botswana for a 26-month community service turn.


The Daily Press reports that Anderson was actually a recruiter for the federal program founded by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. She graduated from Hampton in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology but went off to conquer the world and left her dreams of the storied volunteer organization behind.

After her mother passed away in 2015, the Paterson, N.J., native reportedly said, “Now is the time.”

Anderson will join 81 others in her cohort to Botswana, where 175 volunteers currently serve. She will spend three months living with a host family, learning about the culture and the language, Setswana, and will then be placed in a health clinic, helping to care for those individuals who have HIV/AIDS or are dependents of those who have HIV/AIDS.

According to the organization, 7 percent of all Peace Corps volunteers are older than 50.


“I’m just as curious as everyone else to see if, at 73, I can learn a new language, but I have confidence—and a lot of prayer—that it’s going to be possible,” Anderson said.

She says that she is now getting support from her family, who were a little reluctant at first.


“Initially I didn’t [get backing], because people were like, ‘We’re old, we need to sit back retired,’ and now they’re like ‘Go, go, go!’”

Read more at the Daily Press.

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