The graduate who swapped retirement for a uni degree

Jennie Cox and Chancellor Gary Smith and at-home graduation ceremony in Jennie's garden

When it comes to university – and the opportunity to study a topic that fascinates you – age truly is just a number. This is my Murdoch journey: meet Jennie, a mature age Bachelor of Arts graduate in her 80s.

It’s a thought many have harboured at one point or another: is it too late to go to university?

If there has ever been someone to prove otherwise, it’s the remarkable Jennie Cox who earned a Bachelor of Arts at the age of 82.

Her decision to enrol came about after enjoying the public lectures offered at Murdoch University’s Rockingham campus.

“I thought, ‘We’re sitting in on lectures and doing all the reading … I may as well start the degree!’ I didn’t believe I’d ever finish it. But I did,” Jennie said.

As a former nurse, she was no stranger to academic rigour or upskilling. But after a lifetime of caring for others at Armadale and Fremantle Hospitals, she was ready for a new challenge. While others in her age group were winding down or retired, this proud graduate was enjoying intellectual challenges, exploring the University grounds with students of all ages, and immersing herself in her Indigenous Studies course.

“Jennie just wanted to understand the world in which she lived. She has an insatiable thirst for learning,” Emeritus Professor Andrew Taggart said.

“Jennie organised study groups and chat groups at the campus and elsewhere in Rockingham. She was a driving force for the University of the Third Age and contributed to Mature Adults Learning Association, all based at Rockingham.”

Growing numbers of mature age students, especially women, are going to university for the first time or taking up the opportunity to study again (DET 2021). The reasons are varied and personal. It might be to: experience higher education that was previously unattainable due to cultural or societal expectations; increase earning potential; learn about subjects that have been a lifelong interest; or to do something just for themselves now they’re an empty nester.

Does this strike a chord in you? It may be cliché but the world really is your oyster, with flexible study options and support for students throughout Western Australia. You’ll be in great company at Murdoch because there have been more than 65,000 mature-agers enrol in our courses since 1975.

We’ve been breaking down barriers since the University’s inception. Murdoch’s philosophy has always focused on inclusivity and equity: study at any age, enrolment with alternative pathways, and women in education. The peaceful atmosphere on campus, surrounded by lush native vegetation, was also carefully curated so people from all walks of life would feel at home here.

It doesn’t matter what chapter you’re up to in your life story. At Murdoch University we believe everyone should have the chance to reach their potential and find personal fulfilment.

Not all university journeys are the same. Explore our range of enrolment options for mature age students.
Posted on:

17 Jul 2023

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