Shoalwater grandma is proof that it’s never too late to learn

Jake DietschSound Telegraph
Jennifer Cox graduated from Murdoch Uni at the age of 81.
Camera IconJennifer Cox graduated from Murdoch Uni at the age of 81. Credit: Picture: Jake Dietsch/Coastal Times

A local grandmother has proved age is no barrier to learning, graduating university at 81 years old.

Jennifer “Jenny” Cox graduated Murdoch University with a Bachelor Arts — Australian Aboriginal Studies, receiving her certificate last week.

The university held five ceremonies earlier this month in Perth, but due to time and distance Mrs Cox was unable to attend.

And so university delegates — including Chancellor Gary Smith — and friends and family brought the ceremony to her Shoalwater home.

Jennifer Cox with her gran-kids Jack, Molly and Isobel McCarthy, Bec Gunzburg and Alexandra Cox.
Camera IconJennifer Cox with her gran-kids Jack, Molly and Isobel McCarthy, Bec Gunzburg and Alexandra Cox. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Jake Dietsch

Mrs Cox had studied health throughout her career as a nurse, but had a longing to study the arts.

“I thought I might as well enrol and enjoy it,” she said. “I was terribly shocked because I knew nothing about arts.

“I thought ‘what is this?’ But it was great and Murdoch nursed me through it beautifully.”

Mrs Cox said her degree was “great fun” and she chose her course due to the infectious enthusiasm of Michael Prince — the academic chair of Australian Indigenous Studies.

“(The degree) encompassed everything. It was so global,” she said.

Mrs Cox completed the last year of her degree online due to the pandemic.

She said she was amazed when she found out the university was travelling to her home to present the certificate.

Jennifer Cox, 81, and Murdoch chancellor Gary Smith.
Camera IconJennifer Cox, 81, and Murdoch chancellor Gary Smith. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph/Jake Dietsch/Sound Telegraph

Chancellor Smith said the university had a “proud history” of supporting mature-age students.

“Jenny represents a wonderful example of that,” he said.

“It really tells the whole range of community that it doesn’t matter what age you are.

“You can engage the brain, you can study and learn.

“We did five graduations at RAC arena for about 1500 to 1000 people. This is just as important.”

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