For Judy Fazendin, 67, being a senior doesn’t mean slowing down. Instead, her life became busier in the fall of 2013 when she decided to continue her education at Clovis Community College Center (CCCC).
“As a senior, we need to go back (to college) in order to keep up with technology and keep up with the world,” said Fazendin, who is pursuing a certificate as a managerial assistant.
What makes going back to college even more special is seeing her granddaughter, Kadie Marshall, 20, in the hallway.
“I’ve been fortunate that I had a granddaughter that pushed me,” Fazendin said. “I had no choice. I had to keep up with her world.”
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Passing her grandma in the hallway and seeing her fitting in as just another student has been a fun experience for Marshall.
“It gives me that extra boost of confidence, knowing that if she can do it, I can do it, too,” Marshall said. “At first I thought it would be awkward, but now it’s really nice. When I pass her in the hallway, I hug her and say ‘I love you, grandma.’”
Even though Fazendin attributes going back to school to keeping up with Marshall, that is not her only reason.
“It keeps me going mentally and keeps me going out in the world,” she said.
Fazendin has already completed all the computer classes - her sole purpose for going back to school. However, with a little influence from her brother and some of the instructors at CCCC, she has continued to take classes. She took accounting - her hardest course - and even music appreciation - her favorite course. With her new computer skills, she’s even begun taking classes online.
“My online class is fantastic,” Fazendin said. “I really enjoy it. It takes a lot of discipline, but it’s really, really nice.”
Even though she was scared to go back to college, Fazendin’s experience has been positive.
“These students here are very helpful, extremely nice and ... if you walk around they have a smile for you or a ‘hi.’ Whether they know you or not, it’s just there. The instructors are very nice and very helpful. It kind of seems that maybe they have a little more patience with older people.”
Fazendin is no longer the only senior on campus, she said, adding that she is noticing more older women going back to college.
David-Anthony Navarro, College Relations Specialist at Clovis Community College Center, said he has also observed more older adults returning to college. Most of them are returning to college to upgrade their computer skills.
“We live a in world centered on technology,” Navarro said. “The older adult, looking to be competitive, is coming back to college to increase their knowledge base. Their employer may have implemented new technology or someone is desiring a career change.”
Navarro said Judy is the model student to demonstrate what it takes to be successful - maturity, wisdom and a work ethic.
“Work ethic is the one character trait that resounds the most with her,” Navarro said. “She knows the material is challenging. It’s in those moments of academic difficulty where her grit pushes her through. So many of our young adults entering college would benefit tremendously by exercising some degree of grit.”
Even after a hard exam, Navarro said Fazendin’s always has one motto: “Giving up is not an option.”
“With that attitude, she inspires me to dig a little deeper in every area of my life,” Navarro said.
And Navarro isn’t the only person Fazendin is inspiring.
“I’ve seen more dedication out of her than out of a lot of other students,” Marshall said. “It’s really encouraged me. It really encourages other students as well. I’m so proud of her.”