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Reading: 90-year-old woman graduates from US university with honours, celebrates unique achievement
Reading: 90-year-old woman graduates from US university with honours, celebrates unique achievement

90-year-old woman graduates from US university with honours, celebrates unique achievement

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Festus Conteh
By Festus Conteh 130 Views 2 Min Read
2 Min Read

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.

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Festus Conteh is an international youth that functions conveniently in all forms of writing including article writing, news, script, content writing, constitution and project/proposal writing. Writing is fun to Festus and has brought fame and recognition in his clime. In 2019, he was awarded best upcoming writer in an online writing completion that was organized by the Association of Sierra Leonean Authors (ASLA). After his impactful contribution to national development and cohesion through writing, he was nominated for the African Genius Award for the Best Writer in Africa Award Category an award he lost to one of the greatest African Writers - Chinua Achebe. In 2022, Festus was one of the applicants to the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) as Vice Chairperson (Policy and Advocacy) a process that met imperil feedback. As a freelancer, Festus has written articles for magazines, newspapers, and media houses and his articles have attracted big media houses including BBC, Aljazeera and Legit. Ng and is the Head of Programs at Salone Messenger a public relations firm based in Sierra Leone with the latest news and information. He is the founder of Africa’s Wakanda a platform that spotlight the beauty of Africa. Festus is also a perpetual volunteer in life-changing causes and has shown great commitment and dedication to being a catalyst and solution to the challenges faced by young people like himself. Festus currently serves as the Secretary General of the Africa Youth Leaders movement which is a network of youth between the ages of 20 – 30 years who have shown achievement, leadership potential and commitment to make a difference. Festus is also the Africa Focal Point of Youth for Change Initiative, which is a platform through which young people can access resources, be empowered and given the opportunity to grow to become useful members of society who will participate in the development of their communities and nation. Along with another Africa Youth platform, Festus has Co-Founded the Future of Africa initiative which is an advocate forum with the aim to bring together local and international socio-economic stakeholders to support innovative programs aimed at advancing the radical and practical progress of adoption awareness-vulnerable children and youth and youth leadership-through interlinking local, regional and international resources and opportunities.