Joyce DeFauw, an extraordinary 90-year-old grandmother, accomplished her lifelong dream of obtaining a university degree, after her initial attempt more than 70 years ago.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies, Joyce DeFauw, at 90 years old, became the oldest person to graduate from Northern Illinois University in the United States.
In 1951, Joyce DeFauw first enrolled in Northern Illinois University but had to discontinue her studies after meeting the love of her life in church. “I attended school for three and a half years, but decided to leave after I met him,” narrated DeFauw.
Northern Illinois University, which Joyce DeFauw attended when it was known as Northern Illinois State Teachers College, was originally where she enrolled to obtain a teaching degree. However, she later shifted her focus to home economics.
Don Freeman Sr. was her husband and the handsome man Joyce DeFauw fell in love with. They were married and had three children before his death.
Joyce later married the late Roy DeFauw. Together, they raised six children, including two sets of twins. Her family has grown significantly over the years, and she now has 24 great-grandchildren and 17 grandchildren.
In 2019, encouraged by her children, Joyce DeFauw decided to return to the university to earn her degree. “I guess I mentioned I was upset that I didn’t finish school, and my children encouraged me to go back,” she said.