Elin Nordegren is now a college graduate. On May 10, the 34-year-old mother of two graduated from Rollins College with a bachelor's degree in psychology and 3.96 GPA. She also earned the Class of 2014's top honor, the Hamilton Holt Outstanding Senior Award, and the opportunity to address her fellow graduates in a commencement speech.
Although it took her nine years to graduate, Nordegren persevered. She managed to juggle night classes while raising two children as a single mom, going through a tumultuous divorce, and enduring a period of intense media scrutiny. In her speech, she talked about how education had helped through the difficult times. As she explained, "education has been the only consistent part of my life the last nine years. And it has offered me comfort. Education is one thing that no one can take away from you."
Nordegren also talked about how her fellow students had inspired her to keep going. Because many of her classmates did not enter college straight out of high school, many of them had to balance school with full-time jobs and providing for their families. As she commented, "whatever obstacle I was facing at the time, your stories and sharing helped me put things in perspective."
Still, the Swedish-born former model couldn't resist throwing in a dig about her divorce from Tiger Woods. As she reflected, "in the fall of 2005, I was 25 years old. I had just recently moved to America. I was married without children. Today, nine years later, I am a proud American and I have two beautiful children. But I am no longer married."
Yet Nordegren wasn't out to take pot shots at her ex. Ultimately, she hoped to inspire others with her speech. Given that Mother's Day was coming up, the former nanny talked about her own mother managed to be there for her while she was growing up, and later going on to becoming a governor in Sweden, proving that it was possible to pursue a career later in life.
When Nordegren first got the call to speak at commencement, she was "a little scared." She has a reputation in golf circles for being quiet and reserved. As she remarked during her speech, "I've been called a woman of few words and criticized by the media for not talking very much."
Still, the normally-private Nordegren decided to embrace the opportunity to address her class, and to overcome her reservations about public speaking. She wanted to show that it was never too late to pursue an education. As she told People on May 10, "if I can inspire even one mom to go back and get her degree with the message that it's never too late, then I am happy."