90-year-old great-grandmother graduated from Northern Illinois University – NBC Chicago

Decades after enrolling in college, a 90-year-old grandmother walked across the stage at Northern Illinois University on Sunday — with her degree in hand.

For Joyce DeFauw, it was a moment she wasn’t sure would ever happen.

DeFauw first enrolled on campus in 1951 when it was Northern Illinois State Teachers College. The first in her family to go to college, Joyce thought she would get a teaching degree, but later changed her major to home economics, saying it suited her better, according to an NIU article.

Joyce attended college for three and a half years and was a member of the bowling team. One day, she explained, she met a “handsome guy” at church, and the two later got married.

Afterward, Joyce dropped out of school, and then life “got pretty busy” for her and her first husband, the late Don Freeman Sr., according to the article.

Joyce had three children before her first husband’s death, then spent five years as a widow before marrying her second husband, the late Roy DeFauw. The couple had six children together, including two sets of twins.

Decades later, Joyce moved into a nursing home and acquired a computer, which she got used to over time. Joyce had resumed her studies when the pandemic hit. Yet, she explained, the isolation and difficulties associated with studies sometimes got to her.

“A lot of times I would have quit. I almost did,” Joyce said. “There were just too many people who knew about it. I didn’t want to let them down. I quit once and I I said to myself: ‘I don’t want to do it again.’ »

Financial problems threatened to end his trip at some point. But Joyce was able to continue after receiving a Project Finish Line scholarship, which helps students facing financial hardship in their final semester complete their studies.

Ahead of Sunday’s opening ceremony, Joyce expressed her excitement and shared only one concern: that she hopes she doesn’t fall.

“In the village where I live, some don’t really know where they are,” Joyce said. “Being able to do what I did is a blessing…I’ve been given so much.”

NBC Chicago

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