Don't give up: 90-year-old woman graduates from college


Don't give up: 90-year-old woman graduates from college 70 years after the first enrollment.

Joyce Defoe, 90, graduated from Northern Illinois University on Sunday.

She is one of the oldest to graduate from the university.

She first attended what was then Northern Illinois State Teachers College in 1951 but later dropped out.

DEKALB, Illinois (WGN) — A 90-year-old great-grandmother became a college graduate on Sunday.

Walking across the stage to get her undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University was a 70-year-old moment in the making of Joyce Defoe.

She is one of the oldest Huskies to have graduated from the university.

"There's so much going on that I can barely make sense of it all," said Defoe. "It's great."

She first attended what was then Northern Illinois State Teachers College in 1951.

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DeFauw started as an early major, then home economics, studying German, typography, and bookkeeping.

"But, my God. In my church, " this young man was definitely attractive," she said. "And apparently, it was mutual because we decided to meet, and then I decided to drop out."

Her husband died, and she remarried. Altogether, she had nine children.

With the events of life, she never forgot about school.

"The kids seemed to say I wish I had told them. I wish I had finished," DeFauw said. "And they thought, 'Well, why don't you go now? You have nothing to do, and there is nothing better to do.'" You're right. So I decided to go back. But I needed a computer.

They got it, and in 2019, she re-enrolled at NIU.

She completed her online classes from the retirement community where she lives in Geneseo, Illinois.

"Well, I was assigned to the classes, but there were times when I wanted to quit," said Defoe. But I was like, 'Now, don't give up now; you're so close. Don't give up now. "And I'm so grateful I didn't and had the guidance and encouragement."

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She won a scholarship to cross the finish line, and the faculty and staff called her an inspiration, saying they learned as much from her as I did from them.

At 90 years old, DeFauw has a bachelor's degree in general studies. She said you were never old enough to finish what you started.

"There is so much to learn, life is so exciting, and we all have different talents," she said. "We are all here for a reason. And so keep going."

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