Oldest student celebrates lifelong learning

Over the past three decades, Lenore Lindsey has taken just about every course offered at King’s University College – some more than once.

“I started when I was 60. I hadn’t been in school since high school. I took night courses and sold real estate, but I liked studying better,” said the 90-year-old, who is the oldest student at Western.

“English was my first love and then I branched out to history. I ran out of those courses, too, and have been taking religious studies. I have to repeat courses because I’ve run out of (them) – but, with a different professor, it’s a different course,” she said with a laugh.

Lindsey has completed two degrees over the years – a BA in English and a shared BA in English and History. A decline in energy, paired with some health concerns, she said, haven’t slowed her down.

“I’ve gone nonstop even though I’ve had a knee replacement. I just missed a semester and then I came back. I audit courses now because I can’t do the research,” Lindsey explained.

“I audit and enjoy it. I’m going to go forever; there’s no point in stopping now.”

While she stands out among her classmates, Lindsey is doing what she loves most, and setting an example at the same time.

“Everybody’s getting younger; and I’m getting older. I felt uncomfortable at first, but I thought, ‘I can do this, too.’ It takes a little bit of courage,” she admitted, noting she feels confident now, sharing her love of learning with a younger generation.

“I feel when I’m in the class and (the students) are all the age of my grandkids, that they can see that you don’t have to be young to go to class – that you can still keep on learning and enjoying it. That’s what I think I do for them. They probably think I’m definitely weird but that doesn’t matter. I am, so there you go,” Lindsey said.

And while she has enjoyed her courses over the years, she fondly looks back on sitting next to her granddaughter in class.

“One year, Eve and I took a class about morals. That was great. We both really enjoyed it. She would come into class with two Tim Horton’s (drinks); it was sweet,” Lindsey said. “She had this little notebook, and I don’t know how she did it. I always have a big book when I’m writing.”

Lindsey’s three granddaughters are all studying at Western; one is finishing up studies in the Faculty of Education while the other two are studying Engineering and Political Science.

Her love for reading and writing, Lindsey added, extends beyond the classroom walls.

“I belong to a seniors’ writing group and each week we are assigned a topic. We meet every other week at the Landon Library. And I read the Globe (The Globe and Mail) every morning, my beautiful paper,” she said.

“I think there’s a lot of things out there to learn. And young people do that. Older ones tend to work or do something else – play cards, enjoy their retirement or go to Florida – and that’s fine. My friends think I’m weird, and I am, but there’s a lot to learn. I just enjoy being part of the educational system.”

Western offers a senior citizen bursary, covering a maximum of $6,000 for the September-April study period, to individuals who are 60 years of age or over. Some 50 students took advantage of this bursary last year.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity and I don’t know why more seniors, those younger than me, don’t go. There’s no end to learning.”