It’s never too late: 67-year-old Madison man graduates high school

Published: May. 28, 2021 at 9:39 PM CDT|Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 10:15 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Every day for the last two years, a Madison man has shown that through hard work anything is possible.

“I know it sounds silly to you or crazy to you and you may not understand it,” 67-year-old Charles Satterfield said. “But, yeah, having a high school diploma and degree, ‘Charles G. Satterfield.’ Wow.”

Satterfield received a GED diploma on Thursday at Madison College.

The next morning, he went back to the school to work. He has been a custodian there for the last several years.

“Unfortunately, because of my drug use and the lack of education, I didn’t have enough money saved to sit back like that. Bills still had to be paid,” he said.

He described spending most of his life in the west side of Chicago. He dropped out of high school, got hooked on heroin and bounced from rehab to rehab.

“I was just fed up and it felt like that I was nothing in the world, just nothing, and I had no purpose,” he said.

But with the birth of his first child, Satterfield said he knew he wanted a new life. He saw what it could be in Madison and at Madison College.

“What really got me was that: the book bags,” he said. “I saw them [students] walking with the book bags, and I said, ‘Oh man. That’s got to be cool. That’s got to be the most coolest thing,’” he said.

Satterfield began the GED program two years ago, at an age when most people retire. He said he wanted to prove to his grandkids, “You’re not too old to learn or put whatever your mind to.”

He admitted, the journey was tough.

“Believe it or not, I worked my butt off,” he said. “I worked my butt off harder at school than I did at work because I get my little homework and I go home I knew I had a couple hours before I go to sleep and that’s what I would concentrate on, is my homework.”

Virtual learning created more challenges. “It was hard for me to sometimes just to put the username and the password, and that’s why I kept messing up until I got better,” he said. He pointed to teachers who encouraged him to stay in the program.

Now with a high school degree, Satterfield said he is trying to get into an IT program at the college in the fall.

Madison College said nearly 250 graduates got their GED/HSED on Thursday. About 75 of them, including Satterfield, participated in a drive-thru ceremony at the Truax campus.

While Satterfield was one of the oldest graduates, a Madison College spokesperson said the title belonged to an 82 year old.

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