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‘It’s Not Too Late to Study’, 90-year-old Graduate, Lorna Prendergast Says

On Saturday afternoon during University of Melbourne’s graduation, there was one graduate who received a roaring applause from the crowd when her name got called out.

Dressed in an academic gown, 90-years-old Lorna Prendergast received her master’s degree accompanied by her granddaughters.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Prendergast, who studied online, said that she hopes by speaking about her experience of returning to study, others will realise they are not too old to study.

“The more I know now, the more I want them to follow their dreams.  Nobody is too old to sit down and say ‘I’m too old, I can’t do it’.

“There’s no such word as ‘can’t’ in the dictionary,” she said.

Returning to school

After the death of her husband of 64 years, Mrs Prendergast decided to go on with her life and go back to school after drawing inspiration from a TV program.

“I thought ‘where am I going?’ And just by sheer coincidence, I turned on the TV, and there was this program about music doing so much for people with dementia.

Lorna Prendergast received a standing ovation. Photo: ABC News.

“I just thought ‘I want to know something about this’, because I’d experienced it in the nursing homes, how music helped the patients up there.”


Returning to study in her late 80s, Mrs Prendergast had to adjust to changes in technology.

“One of the things that took a while to get used to, was when I had to have photographs and presentations and that type of thing, took a little bit of time

“But we had a very good technology team at the university and they’re very kind to me and helped me quite a lot,” she said.

“She’s got a passion for lifelong learning, she’s been an early adopter of our online graduate programs. She’s sailed through that, mastered the technology and the digital distance.

“She really is, I suppose, the vanguard of people who are becoming lifelong learners who take up university study at any age,” Associate Professor McKenzie said.


Written by How Africa

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