“Age is just a number,” this is the motto that Gretlyn Jannette Joseph is living by. On Friday, May 13, on the Albert A. Sheen Campus in St. Croix, Joseph earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication at the age of 74.
Joseph, a native of Antigua, set sail to earning her college degree in 2014 after graduating from the Adult Education program on St. Croix. “When I graduated from the adult education program, my counselor at the time Ms. Rashida Lester, encouraged me to enroll at UVI,” said Joseph. “Enrolling at UVI, was something that never really crossed my mind, because at my age I didn’t really think I could enroll in UVI.”
Despite having a little self-doubt, Joseph heeded the words and advice of her former counselor and enrolled at the University in the Fall of 2014 at the age of 66. “I decided to major in Communication because I enjoyed writing and reciting poems and writing letters and short stories.”
With her mind now fixed on earning her bachelor’s degree, Joseph rose up faithfully each morning to catch public transportation in order to attend her classes. “I remember many times being dropped off at the entrance of UVI and having to walk that long road with my books,” said Joseph. “It was really difficult having to do that especially at my age, but I always told myself that I am going to make it, I am not going to drop out, and I am going to go all the way.”
In addition to taking classes at UVI, Joseph, with help from her sisters, also took on the full care of her mother, who is currently 100 years old. “It was really a lot having to balance taking classes and care for my mother, but my mother really motivated me to finish school because she instilled in my siblings and I the importance of hard work. Every morning when I left for school, she gave me a word of encouragement and always told me to do my very best.”
Although Joseph started each day with words of encouragement and support from her loved ones, there were moments where she did feel intimidated having to take classes with students that were much younger than her. “When I first started UVI, I did feel intimidated, because it was a lot at times having to keep up with the pace of my younger classmates, but I didn’t allow that to get to me,” said Joseph. “I knew why I was there, so I did what I had to do.”
“I am honestly grateful that I decided to give UVI a try, because now I feel as though I am a new and improved Gretlyn Jannette Joseph,” she says.
She thanks her advisor Dr. Sharon Honore and Dr. Chenzira Kahina for their mentorship, support and guidance throughout her time at UVI. Joseph is looking forward to walking across the stage on Friday with her daughter and family members cheering her on.
“I want my story to encourage others to not sit back and allow others to dampen your dreams because of your age. Earning my degree clearly did not happen overnight, it took some time,” says Joseph. “If you have a dream, go after it and put your all into it. Although Joseph did encounter challenges while working towards earning her degree, she stated that, “failure is inevitable, but it is not the end of your story.”