Skip to main content

Septuagenarian earns law degree

May 22, 2013

It's not unusual for seniors to continue their education during retirement. Even if it's something as simple as joining a book club or taking a music class, older adults are always learning. But for 77-year-old Donald Fenton, lifelong learning meant a whole lot more. The Vietnam veteran recently graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law, making him one of the oldest graduates in the institution's history, according to the Hartford Courant.

Fenton had always considered getting his Juris Doctor (J.D.) after he left the Army more than 45 years ago, but other career opportunities kept popping up. More than a decade ago, he went back to school for the first time to get his master's degree in history in 2002. By 2009, he had enrolled in UConn's evening program before transferring to daytime classes. After graduation, and after he passes the bar exam, Fenton hopes pursue another popular part of senior living - volunteering.

"I hope to do some work with veterans, in terms of helping them sole some of the problems that they're encountering," he told the Courant. "Obviously, the focus today is on veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's a lot of older veterans [who are] still out there with problems and issues that could use some help."

While Fenton came out of his educational pursuits with a masters and a J.D., other seniors who don't head to grad school can still reap considerable benefits when it come to healthy aging. For instance, lifelong learning can help seniors stay socially engaged, which can have a significant impact of both physical and emotional well-being. In fact, a recent report from Statistics Canada found that socially active seniors had better self-perceived health, lower levels of loneliness and greater satisfaction with life, according to CBC News.