Age…What’s That? Septuagenarian Earns Law Degree at 75!
Turning 60 this year? It’s high time you should join a senior’s club, make a will, organize your power of attorney, and pay off all your debts before you get on your deathbed. Oh, you’re a woman? Then, start with a clean slate because how can we, the society, accept a woman doing ‘masculine’ jobs, right? Devote more time to your husband and children, engage yourself in charity or do some gardening. But not even an inch more than that!
Well, that’s what you get to hear from the “well-wishers” around you, the moment your hair starts greying. And if by any chance, they have the faintest idea about your desire of completing higher education, rest assured you’ll become the trending topic in your locality!
75-year-old Joan Oliver, however, has gained global attention as she has become the oldest Victorian to complete her VCE with a law degree.
Smashing the patriarchy like a pro!
Patriarchy, like always, was at the zenith in 1946 – Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister, and there were just 6,239 women enrolled in university courses in Australia because higher education was mainly for wealthy, white men. Forget the government, families (even mothers) believed in the sickening concept of “Education is for boys, not girls, because girls are just going to get married and have children.” In such a scenario, it wasn’t even remotely possible for a woman to continue her education.
Well, if not in her first innings, Joan Oliver successfully completed her education, that too with a law degree, in the second innings of her life.
For some reason, school gave Oliver a different kind of joy. She always had the hunger to achieve more. So, even though she was pulled out of school at 14 and placed in a dressing gown factory to cover buttons by her mother, Oliver enrolled herself in a night school, learnt how to type, and took her first clerical job working for a road construction job in Footscray. Her career again went on a pause for 50 long years when she married Albert, gave birth to two sons, and underwent a painful accident on the golf course.
But did she give up? Absolutely not!
Hats off to you, #ThePowerpuffLady!
At 68, Joan resumed her education at Victoria University. Not only did she top her English class, but was also awarded a scholarship with which she enrolled in a Criminal Justice course. Despite ageism being a taboo, did she feel a tad bit of awkwardness to sit beside 20-year-olds? She did, but she triumphantly surmounted that and learnt a great deal of things from them. Her legal lecturer, Stella Pardalis, who could perceive how “amazing” Joan was, persuaded her in every possible way to ship into law. And 5 years later, there she was – Lawyer Joan Oliver!
Time and again, Joan has proved that age is just a number to her. No wonder, she has inspired millions of women who regret each day that they couldn’t achieve certain things in their youth. Joan Oliver’s message to them:
“It’s never too late. There’s always time, so if you want to do it, do it.”
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