Graduate, 81, Fulfills Lifelong Dream and Receives Degree

President Kelly and Nicoletta Sorice

(Photo by Alex Dolce)

By brittany sylvestri | 8/9/2018

If you looked at Nicoletta Sorice’s bucket list, you would find “Receive my Degree” written at the very top. 

And now, the 81 year old will be able to scratch that off the list as she walks at 2 p.m. on Aug. 9 to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in language and linguistics during the special commencement ceremony.

Shortly after Sorice was born in Italy in 1936 her father left on a boat bound for America as an emigrant in hopes of a better life for his family. What he thought would only take months for his family to join him in America, took 14 years as a result of WWII. 

Once her family finally reunited in Shreveport, La., Sorice immersed herself into the American culture and was given the opportunity to attend private school where she learned English. This led to the discovery of academia and learning, which left her in awe. 

After years of living in Louisiana, she moved to New York City where she lived for 30 years and worked in the World Trade Center as a seasonal tax preparer for a period of time. She then relocated to South Florida in 1982 with her three children, where she has resided ever since. 

Locally, Sorice worked in the Social Security administration office until she retired at the age of 72. Throughout her career she was denied promotions, which she attributed to not having a college degree, and always felt like she “cheated herself.” 

It was not until 1998 that Sorice took the leap and decided to go back to college. It took 18 long years but she remained determined, and through hard work and perseverance, she received her associate’s degree from Broward College in 2016. Without any pause, Sorice quickly enrolled at FAU and began the final stretch to her No. 1 bucket list item – the bachelor’s degree.

“The teachers at FAU have embraced me and I feel that I have bloomed as a student under them,” said Sorice. 

Ilaira Serra, Ph.D. an associate professor of Italian and comparative studies, said Sorice lives like she is the youngest person in the room and doesn’t let her age define her. 

“Nicoletta has been an inspiration for students and teachers with her enthusiasm for learning, passion for life, commitment to her classes and generosity toward her classmates,” Serra said. “She would speak in first person of many events of Italian history, because she lived through them. And for the students, she was history come alive. She sets such a wonderful example of determination, overcoming any obstacle put in her way.” 

Sorice will miss FAU greatly but plans to take courses with the continuing education program. 

“I am finally at peace with myself,” she said. “I have never been happier than I am right now.”