“I finally did it!” 83-year-old UniSC graduate fulfils lifelong ambition | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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“I finally did it!” 83-year-old UniSC graduate fulfils lifelong ambition

83-year-old Francesca Davies-Graham has graduated UniSC with a Bachelor in Public Health.

Francesca Davies-Graham always planned on getting her degree. She just didn’t expect it to take more than 50 years, or that she would carpool to uni with her granddaughter

The 83-year-old great grandmother of 10 graduated with a Bachelor of Public Health from the University of the Sunshine Coast this week, completing a lifelong goal

“I grew up during World War II in Brisbane, and then moved to Tasmania for school,” she said.

“I wanted to attend university and be a pathologist, but it wasn’t possible where I lived at the time. It was a very different world then.”

Not one to be easily discouraged, Fran pressed on and forged a career in health regardless – working in fields ranging from haematology to cancer research and running a medical laboratory.

But across her long and varied career in health, there was still an itch that hadn’t been scratched – completing a degree.

But whenever she’d try to start university, life kept getting in the way… whether it was the birth of a child or moving to a new city with her husband’s job.

But the itch never went away.

“I had to do it. My brain wouldn’t let me not do it,” she said.

After a move back to Queensland, life finally settled down for Fran, and with two granddaughters studying up the road at UniSC’s Sunshine Coast campus, the time was finally right to bite the bullet.

Suddenly, university was a family affair.

Fran with her granddaughters Kimberley (left) and Katherine (right)

“I was so lucky I could go to university with my granddaughters. Katherine was always supporting me and Kimberley and I would carpool to campus together and we’d have coffee and study dates,” she said.

A couple of hundred coffees, a few frantic rushes to complete assignments and several years later – Fran finally did it.

A Bachelor degree with her name on it.

“It feels unreal. The university’s support made it possible, along with my granddaughters,” she said.

“Now I want to support them in whatever they do next.”

And it may not be the end of Fran’s university journey.

“I might even look at doing a Masters,” she said

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