DeFauw said, "You might feel like it and all that, but just hang in there because the end will come and you will be victorious."
Graduation day makes one feel proud and gives a sense of achievement thinking about the hard work you put into college. But it feels even better when you are getting graduated at an older age. Joyce Viola DeFauw, 90, is graduating on Sunday and she has this message for everyone: “Keep going.” “Don’t give up,” as reported by Good Morning America.
DeFauw said, "You might feel like it and all that, but just hang in there because the end will come and you will be victorious." She got admitted into college three years ago.
She was always interested in studies. She completed schooling at a country school and things were way different back then. DeFauw said, “I went to a one-room country school, they’re were probably eight to thirteen of us at the most.” “I was always in the class myself ... The older grades would help the teacher with the younger grades,” according to TV6 KWQC.
From there, she got a scholarship to study at Northern Illinois in 1951. She studied early elementary education and then switched to home economics. However, she dropped out of college in three-and-a-half years to get married to her first husband. But she still used whatever she learned in college. After her husband passed away, she got remarried. She is a mother of nine children, grandmother 10 17, and great-grandmother to 26. But her desire to study didn’t go away.
And her children gave wings to her dreams. DeFauw said, "I must have told the children that I wish I'd finished back in the 1950s.” "And so, they suggested that I go back and I thought, 'Well, OK,' but I needed a computer … and they got one for me and so I've been able to use it and enjoy it since." She added, “I can’t thank them enough.” “There are no words to express ... I have been given the ability and the time so why not? So I’m very grateful.”
Then there was nothing holding her back. She got enrolled at NIU again in August 2019 and did online courses for a bachelor’s degree in general studies. DeFauw shared that there were times when she wanted to give up but instead, she worked harder. She said, "We get to exchange ideas and things through the computer and I've had wonderful instructors that helped me and suggested things and guided me.” "As far as the encouragement of everyone -- my friends and my family and my teachers - I just couldn't give up."
NIU President Dr. Lisa Freeman said that DeFauw has become an “inspiration” for many. "Joyce DeFauw is an inspiration, a trailblazer, and now a Northern Illinois University college graduate.”
Freeman said that she has shown age is just a number. "She has beautifully shown that earning a degree is life-changing at any age and that it's never too late to pursue new knowledge." DeFauw is “happy and thankful” for this achievement. "I could just jump and shout and run and howl," the 90-year-old matriarch said. DeFauw wants everyone to make their dream come true. "There's so much that life offers that you miss out on if you don't take advantage of it," she said.