This is my Mother in Law and we are very proud of her! She travels a lot too.

At 85, Gwenyth Barrett is Western University’s oldest student. The mother of nine and grandmother of 20 has been taking courses at the university for years and notes if you don’t use it, you lose it.

While most of Gwyneth Barrett’s classmates at Western University type up their lecture notes on laptops, she uses a pen and paper – just like she did at teachers’ college in the 1940s.

At 85, Barrett, a retired elementary school teacher, is one of the oldest students on campus.

The mother of nine and grandmother of 20 has been taking courses at the university for the past 22 years.

“I think more seniors should exercise their brain,” said Barrett, who just finished two courses this semester. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Barrett is one of 35 students over the age of 60 taking classes at Western. Under the senior citizen bursary program, the university picks up the tab for a seniors’ tuition.

Born in Portsmouth, England, in 1927, Barrett hardly looks her age. Wearing a black leather jacket, a purple beret, knee-high boots and a silk scarf, she fits right in on Western’s fashion-focused campus.

Sometimes she runs into one of her grandchildren, Chris, 23, or Ben, 20, both students at Western, while studying in Weldon Library or strolling through campus.

While most of Gwyneth Barrett’s classmates at Western University type up their lecture notes on laptops, she uses a pen and paper – just like she did at teachers’ college in the 1940s.

At 85, Barrett, a retired elementary school teacher, is one of the oldest students on campus.

The mother of nine and grandmother of 20 has been taking courses at the university for the past 22 years.

“I think more seniors should exercise their brain,” said Barrett, who just finished two courses this semester. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Barrett is one of 35 students over the age of 60 taking classes at Western. Under the senior citizen bursary program, the university picks up the tab for a seniors’ tuition.

Born in Portsmouth, England, in 1927, Barrett hardly looks her age. Wearing a black leather jacket, a purple beret, knee-high boots and a silk scarf, she fits right in on Western’s fashion-focused campus.

Sometimes she runs into one of her grandchildren, Chris, 23, or Ben, 20, both students at Western, while studying in Weldon Library or strolling through campus.

She first came to Western in 1990 to take a music course. Since then she’s taken dozens of classes in English, French, history, Italian, geology and geography.

“It’s stimulating, intellectually stimulating (and) challenging,” she said.

In her time at Western, Barrett has earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in arts and humanities.

The only class she’s ever dropped out of was astronomy.

“I didn’t really feel I had the math or the scientific background,” said Barrett, a self-described arts student.

One of Barrett’s favourite campus hangouts is the Grad Club in the basement of the Middlesex College building.

She was sitting in the restaurant reading her textbook Thursday.

A few tables over, a group of three female students in their 20s are chatting and eating French fries.

Barrett is older than the three students combined.

“Every year the students look younger,” she said with a laugh.

For the retiree, Western is about more than just academics. She has also participated in eight school productions.

“Shakespeare is my passion,” she said.

Barrett was planning on completing her PhD, but she decided against it because of her high blood pressure.

She’ll keep taking undergraduate course as long as she can.

“It keeps me young.”

Source dale.carruthers@sunmedia.ca or follow DaleatLFPress on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Leanne said:

    Are you serious? Your Mother in Law is amazing….good for her, this is such a nice story!

  2. Isn’t she fantastic?