For most university students, graduation means facing the new challenges of finding a job, paying off a heap of student loans and basically figuring out how to live an adult life. That’s not the story for two members of Brock University’s graduating class this year. At 93 and 74 years-old, Robin Guard and Allan Edgington don’t have to worry about any of that. The two men have just earned their masters degrees in history and Guard is the university’s oldest graduate.
After his wife passed away, Guard was looking for something to occupy his free time and keep his mind off her passing. The university’s offering of free undergraduate classes to students over 65 was perfect. He had earned his last degree in 1950 in London, England and was initially a little concerned about returning to school after 67 years away.
‘I was frankly nervous, yes,’ he told CTV news. Self-consciously he asked the professor if he would be an embarrassment in the class, he told him absolutely not.
‘I always remember the professor said, ‘No, we welcome you like crazy because we can’t get these students to talk, to tell us what they think. You old guys, you’re always ready to slap your mouths and talk.” And that’s how Guard became a valuable member, not only of the classes he was in, but of the entire learning process. He was able to add valuable insight to history classes learning about topics he had actually lived through. That’s bonus material you can’t get just anywhere.
After completing their bachelors degrees in 2012, Guard and Edgington went back to complete their masters, which they’re receiving this week.
‘We both decided, what the hell,’ Edgington said, ‘Let’s continue with history.’ So that’s what they did. Guard says he’s going to be heading back to school again in the fall to feed his love of learning and inspire others to do the same.
‘I would love to be a role model, of course,’ he said, ‘A role model for the principle of never stop learning.’ He said he might also write a memoir because he’s found people to be interested in his personal history. We certainly are. His life has spanned almost an entire century, we’d love to read all about it.
And his advice for younger students entering university? ‘Keep healthy by constant exercise, eat a balanced diet and keep your mind active by reading.’
‘You only have one life,’ he said, ‘You might as well try everything.’