Skip to main content

Campus Alert

Paul Hocheder at Carroll Community College

Most senior citizens prefer to spend their golden years just taking it easy, doing recreational activities like going on vacation, going out to eat or going to the movies.

Not 90-year-old Paul Hocheder. The senior learner wanted to go back to college.

Reliving History… Class

This Spring semester, Paul enrolled in History 235, a course covering the Great War and the Twenty-Year Truce, at Carroll Community College. The last time he attended college was in 1960, when he graduated from University of Maryland with a degree in Business Administration. Paul decided returning to college now would help keep his mind active. He plans to enroll in more classes next semester as a freshman.

“I think I would like to major in History,” Paul said, who’s auditing the class he’s taking now. “I read a lot of books about history, and I spent almost four years in Europe after World War 2 ended. What got me started studying history was being there and knowing a lot of men who fought in World War I and in World War II. It just piques my interest.”

“And I feel younger and more alert in it,” the senior learner said about his History 235 class. “It’s something to look forward to instead of sitting around retired doing nothing.”

“Not only am I learning, but it’s bringing back memories of what I did,” Paul continued. “I had lived in Verdun, France. The course so far has included Verdun in every lecture. The first day of class, I sit down and [the professor] puts up on the screen a picture of a graveyard [in Verdun]. I taught my first wife how to drive a car in that graveyard!”

Tackling TikTok’s Algorithm

Inspired by her grandfather’s pursuits, his granddaughter Gabrielle Remington posted a video on TikTok of Paul arriving on campus for his first day of school (with a sound clip from the Adam Sandler film Billy Madison). The post went viral, to date racking up close to one million likes, 35K saves and more than 5,000 shares. “Before I just posted silly videos of my dogs and my bird, but nothing went crazy until this one!”

The jaw-dropping success of the senior learner post led to ABC’s Good Morning America reaching out to Gabrielle and Paul for a virtual interview. Wearing his U.S. Air Force cap and sitting in front of a Carroll Community College backdrop, Paul answered questions about taking college classes at this time in his life and about his experiences so far at Carroll Community College. Gabrielle also talked about the amazing reaction to her post.

“I think it became so popular because it’s a sweet story,” Gabrielle mused. “I’m finishing up my doctorate right now and I go to school with some older people as well, but not 90 [years old]! I think it’s just interesting to people.”

Learning Is Ageless

“It doesn’t matter how old [students] are, if they are in my classroom, especially for a 200-level class, they’re there to learn something and have an experience with the other students,” said Dr. Robert Young, professor of Paul’s History 235 course. “Paul is no different. THAT is precious to me and helps keep me motivated after teaching almost 29 years at Carroll!”

“Robert is a great guy, and he knows what he’s talking about,” Paul said about Dr. Young. “He’s just as good as any college professor in any four-year school. I think people ought to send all their kids here!”

“We welcome all students to come to Carroll Community College and learn more about their interests,” said Dr. James Ball, president of Carroll. “It is exciting to see Paul and other senior learners taking advantage of our tuition-free credit and non-credit courses.”

What’s next for Gabrielle on TikTok? “I think we need to keep going with the story, because he loves it here [at Carroll]. We talk every day, so I hear about his class and what he learned.” Since that first viral TikTok, Gabrielle has created several more posts featuring her grandfather at the College.

“I’m so proud of him,” Gabrielle continued. “He’s just always learning… always been an advocate for education… and he’s inspired all of his cousins and grandchildren. We all look up to him so much!”

We Have Something for Everyone!

Explore Carroll’s wide variety of credit and non-credit programs.