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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#115---May 19, 200 0
Contact: Office of Public Affairs
phone: 415/338-1665

72 year-old liberal studies major Eva Levi the oldest grad in San Francisco State's class of 2000

Longtime San Francisco resident and grandmother of four to receive diploma 18 years after she began her college education.

SAN FRANCISCO --- May 19, 2000--- Eva Levi is going to party twice during the last weekend in May. On Saturday, May 27, she will receive her college diploma in front of an audience of 20,000; the very next day she and her husband Max will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends. But while these two accomplishments are cause to rejoice, Levi herself would be the first to point out that to truly understand her, you need to know the full story.

Afraid of becoming a target of Nazi persecution, Levi and her Jewish family left their home near the German-Swiss border in 1939 and fled to the only place open to them at the time-Shanghai. Levi, who was 12 at the time, doesn't recall many of the details of the trip except that they "took the slow boat to China-70 days around the horn of Africa."

Since they had been unable to bring any of their material assets with them, her family was quite poor. This was especially difficult for Levi's parents who had been accustomed to a middle-class lifestyle. But Shanghai did have a large European population, and Levi was able to go to school and learn English.

When she was 20, Levi emigrated to the United States and settled in San Francisco. Since she already knew the language, she was able to take night classes at Galileo High and complete a GED (general equivalency degree). Through mutual friends, she met Max Levi, a young man who had also grown up along the German-Swiss border. They married and had three children. Eva raised them and took care of the household while Max ran a wholesale food business.

After her children were grown, Levi d ecided that she wanted to pursue a college education. "I went back to school not for business purposes, but because I was interested in widening my knowledge," she proudly states. At first, she wanted to major in history, but then decided that it was too focused of a discipline and switched to liberal studies with a concentration in literature. Liberal studies is a major often chosen by students who want to teach at the elementary or high school levels; but since it incorporates upper division courses f rom a variety of disciplines, Levi saw it as a chance to engage in a wide field of study.

Because she was only able to attend school part time, it took her 18 years to finish her degree-a long journey, but one well worth it says Levi. "I was always the oldest one in class, but that didn't matter because the young people accepted me, and I was able to keep up with my studies."

Max, her three children, and her oldest granddaughter (who is 12) will be at Cox Stadium on Saturday, May 27, to watch her walk across the stage and receive her diploma. "They are all kind of proud of me," Levi says, "as I am of myself-for sticking it out for so long."


NOTE: Eva Levi can be reached at 415/585-8925.

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Last modified May 19, 2000, by Office of Public Affairs