74-year-old man earns degree from Laurier

Jeff Cheevers is now one of Wilfrid Laurier University’s most recent graduates, and perhaps one of its oldest, at the age of 74.

Cheevers said he finished high school later in life, and a university degree was never really part of the plan. But after retiring a few years ago, he heard about Laurier offering free tuition to seniors.

“When you go in and get asked if you’re the professor right off the bat you go ‘uh, no I am just one of you,’” said Cheevers.

He started as a part-time student, but then began enjoying the challenge. A few classes snowballed into a four-year criminology degree with a minor in history. He even made the dean’s list in his final year.

“I remember the first group project I did I was thinking ‘oh, you’ve got to pick your groups? That means you’ve got to talk to other people? Well, who’s going to ask me?’”

But Cheevers said students were very welcoming and accommodating, and they helped him with the technology he didn’t know.

The pandemic delayed his graduation ceremony by two years, but it was a moment he had been waiting a lifetime for.

“It was funny because she talked at the end about moving onto the next phase of your life – kids, marriage. And I am sitting there going, ‘where am I going? I’ve done all that,’” he said.

Cheevers is not planning a return to the workforce any time soon. After hip surgery in the New Year, he hopes to use his new skills as a volunteer with young offenders.

More information about learning opportunities for seniors at Laurier can be found here.