AU grad uses life’s challenges to propel her towards new educational opportunities
No 2 people have the same education journey—and for some, it starts much later than anticipated
Judy Jones‘s (Master of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies ’22) post-secondary education journey began in 2013 when she was in her mid-60s. Following her mother’s passing and after undergoing 2 eye surgeries, she realized it was time to do something different with her life.
Jones completed a bachelor’s degree in adult education and then decided to to pursue a master’s at Athabasca University (AU). At age 70, she’s the oldest graduate in the Class of 2022.
Ties to her community
Jones came to study at AU because it allowed her to build on the knowledge she had gained from her undergraduate degree in adult education. One of the biggest draws for Jones was that she was able to tailor her AU learning journey to her interests in social justice, community building, and environmentalism.
During her studies, she focused some of her research on incorporating Indigenous Knowledge into a climate action plan. She then took that to her community, where she worked as a facilitator for restorative justice peace circles and involved students to help her build a climate action plan.
She also took her learnings from another course to integrate a science climate curriculum into an after-school program for primary grade students. One of the projects they worked on was building a community garden—which taught the students the importance of reducing the greenhouse effect.
“AU has furthered my knowledge in areas of equity, focusing on empathy, understanding, and social justice,” said Jones when reflecting on her experience.
“I am proud to represent today's graduates who "dare to dream," where education is a privilege and honour regardless of age or abilities.”– Judy Jones
Reflecting on the journey
Jones, who has visual challenges, found AU’s flexibility incredibly accommodating. She worked with Accessibility Services, which provided support and solutions to help her achieve her goals.
“I am proud to represent today’s graduates who “dare to dream,” where education is a privilege and honour regardless of age or abilities,” said Jones.
As Jones’ chapter at AU comes to an end, she reflected on what education means to her.
“I have come to appreciate that learning and education are not just about gaining knowledge but is something that can be enjoyed and embraced for a lifetime,” she said.
Jones shared that her educational journey has significantly impacted how she views the world and has been a powerful experience. It has also given her great hope for the future.
In the future, she is hoping to start a doctorate that focuses on social practice and transformational change while she continues to work on community development initiatives.
She also offered some advice for future students adding that the best thing they can do is “to believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities. The journey is worth it.”
Learn more about Athabasca University’s Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree.