On Sunday, December 11, a 90-year-old great-grandmother graduated from college.
Joyce DeFauw got her degree from Northern Illinois University more than 70 years after she first started going there.
She is one of the oldest UW Huskies to ever get a degree.
DeFauw said, “There’s so much going on that I can hardly take it all in.” “That’s great.”
In 1951, she went to school for the first time at what was then called Northern Illinois State Teachers College.
DeFauw’s first major was early elementary school, then she took home economics, German, typing, and bookkeeping.
But she fell in love and had to stop going to school.
She thought back: “But for God’s sake. There was this young man at my church who was very attractive. And it seems to have worked both ways, because we decided to hang out and then I quit school.”
Her husband died, so she married someone else. She had nine kids in total. She still didn’t forget about school.
She said, “The kids told me that I should have told them that. I wish I were done. “Well, why don’t you go now?” they thought. You don’t have anything better to do.’ I agree with you. That’s why I chose to go back. I needed a computer, though.”
They found one for her, and in 2019 she went back to NIU.
She took her classes online from her home in Geneseo, Illinois, where she lives in a community for older people.
“Well, I had to take classes, but there were times when I wanted to quit,” DeFauw said. “But, uh, I was like, ‘Now, don’t give up now that you’re so close. Don’t quit now.” And I’m very glad I didn’t, because I had help and support.”
She was given a scholarship so she could finish school, and the teachers and staff say she is an inspiration because they learned just as much from her as she did from them.
DeFauw is getting her bachelor’s degree in general studies at the age of 90.
She told people that it’s never too late to finish what you started.
She also said, “There is so much to learn, and life is so exciting, and we all have different talents. There’s a reason we’re all here. And so just keep going.”