Hortense Valerie Anglin, received thunderous and standing ovation from guests and fellow graduands as she gently walked across the stage to receive her first degree and be congratulated by the platform party at York University’s in-person fall convocation.
“The diversity of our students is incredible, and that diversity also goes across age,” says Rhonda Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “As far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect representation of the importance of life-long learning.
“You’ll never know where life will take you, or what time in your life, and so it’s wonderful when I see people who are coming across that stage, York University graduands in all times of their lives. It’s beautiful.”
For Markham resident Anglin, that time of her life came when she was inspired by her 79-year-old younger sister, Osra Lindo, who received an undergrad degree after learning about York’s pathway bridging program in a flyer she found at her local library.
“I couldn’t start right away, because my husband was ailing, and I had to devote my time fully to care for him,” remembers Anglin.
When her husband of 52 years passed away in 2014, Anglin focused on getting back on track with her education which she had discontinued after high school, more than half a century ago.
There was no turning back. And history repeated itself when Anglin walked across the same York convocation stage as her sister and granddaughter did in 2018.
“It’s an absolutely ecstatic feeling,” Anglin says. “I have enjoyed every moment of this journey. It has been so meaningful and joyful.”
But the journey was not a breeze. Starting from completing a bridging program to transitioning from in-person to online education in March 2020, she had to adjust to new ways of learning quickly. Anglin appreciates the support of York’s technical support team as much as the help faculty members offered throughout her studies.
To be eligible for a bachelor’s degree program in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Anglin had to undergo the Bridging Program for Women.
“For 13 weeks I commuted to the York University-TD Engagement Centre at Yorkgate Mall in Jane and Finch neighbourhood to attend the bridging program,” says Anglin.
“The bridging program was a simulation of university work. It is an excellent program that gives access to a university education,” she says, advocating for the program that supports not only seniors like her but also those who might have had challenges in pursuing higher education as well as newcomers to Canada – who can join the program as an entry-point before transitioning into a degree, diploma or certificate program at York.
“There were people in that class, who came from different countries – some from Iran and the Far East countries,” says Anglin. “But they already had degrees in physiotherapy, medical laboratory work, and even nursing, and they wanted to go back to their old professions or switch to other professions. That was the beauty of the bridging program.”
Upon completing the bridging program, Anglin decided to pursue a degree in Religious Studies.
“I loved learning about a variety of subjects, and the last subject I completed for graduating was Making Sense of the Changing World, and I just fell in love with anthropology,” says an enthusiastic and energetic Anglin. “I’ve already signed up to do another course in anthropology this fall and who knows, my next convocation would be for a master’s degree in the next couple of years.”
Photo: Recent graduate Hortense Anglin with York University president Rhonda Lenton.