Graduate puts six decades between cap and gown

Pauline Wetton hopes her experience will encourage other retirees to pursue further education options.

Proving learning is a lifelong journey, Pauline Wetton, of Orewa, received a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts, majoring in politics, at the University of Auckland’s Spring Graduation, nearly 60 years after completing her Bachelor’s degree.

At 78-year-old, Pauline was the oldest graduate at the ceremonies, where she gained her fifth qualification.

The retired school teacher and political commentator completed her first degree at Canterbury University College – a branch of the University of New Zealand – in 1960.

“This caused me some problems when I enrolled at Auckland in 2011. Administrative staff couldn’t find that university in their records,” she recalls.

“If anyone with an older degree is thinking about re-enrolling, then I would strongly advise them to talk to someone at the university so they understand what your original degree means.”

Pauline has spent the last six years completing both an undergraduate and postgraduate diploma, while in her seventies.

“It has been six years of effort, achievement and pleasure in the work, the learning and in the company of people very much younger,” she says.

Pauline also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from Victoria University of Wellington from the 1970s, and a Licentiate in Speech and Drama, gained in one year during the early 1980s.

“I would recommend a university course to anyone of ‘mature’ years if they wish to stave off Alzheimers, and learn to appreciate how hard today’s students work – all very different to when I completed my BA or my first Postgraduate Diploma in Education.

“University study keeps both brain and body alive, alert, empathetic and engaged with the rapidly changing world in which we live. Although there have been some stressful times over the last years, I will never regret taking the step to enroll at the University of Auckland in 2011, and I thank the staff and other students for their friendship and their guidance.”


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