OGDEN, Utah (KUTV) — A 79-year-old student at Weber State University has gained millions of social media followers documenting her life and journey at school.
Sharon Barber, known as @grandmagreat on TikTok, is earning an associate’s degree at Weber State after taking a 40-year break to work and raise a family.
“I’m a nontraditional student in every sense of the word,” Barber said. “When I first started classes, I was kind of an anomaly. I got a few strange looks. But I decided I’m going to go in there like any other student, with a positive attitude. Now I’m feeling like I’m in my element.”
School officials said she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at Weber State after finishing her associate’s degree.
“When you haven’t been to school for 40 years, everything is hard,” she said. “But I have just met the most amazing, kind, considerate, helpful students that have helped me on this journey.”
Barber first joined TikTok in 2020 after she said her daughter and granddaughter recorded a video in her backyard.
“My daughter said, ‘Mom, you would be so good at TikTok. You love people, you’re funny, you’re spontaneous, you’re likable, people love you. Why don’t we do a TikTok?’ And I said OK, and I created my platform," she said.
Weber State officials said Barber calls her followers her “TikTok grandchildren.”
“There are so many people looking for someone to care, to reach out, to tell them they’re enough, to tell them that they can do hard things,” Barber said. “I don’t have any degree in psychology or sociology, but I have at least 50 years of good experience in dealing with life. And all I can offer is just what I know, what I feel.”
She ends most of her videos looking directly into the camera and saying, “I love you.”
“Love is an energy that you can put out there in the universe,” Barber said. “I believe that social media is a means of doing that. And I hope that ‘I love you’ resonates with whoever’s needing that.”
She said in a press release that she expects to earn her bachelor’s degree at age 84 and would also like to go skydiving.