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Yvonne Blackwood
College Life of a Retired Senior
Seven years after she retired from a lengthy career in banking, Yvonne Blackwood surprised her friends and family by returning to school at age sixty-four to pursue an English degree. Her purpose was fueled by four powerful reasons—to add texture to her writing; to ward off dementia; to enhance structure in her life; and to inspire her two young grandsons to continue their education after high school. But as she stepped onto the campus of Canada’s third-largest university, Blackwood had no idea of the hurdles she was about to face. In a retelling of her journey into a new beginning, Blackwood details how, after enrolling in York University, she struggled to maintain her established lifestyle, attend class with hard-to-connect-with millennials, and face a series of challenges that included two strikes at the university, a campus lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a shocking health diagnosis in her final year of studies. While leaning on the university’s motto—the way must be tried—Blackwood tells an inspiring story of how she persevered and learned to rely on her faith as she bravely conquered her fears and vulnerabilities to eventually achieve her goal. College Life of a Retired Senior is the true story of a former bank manager’s experiences as she returned to college in the third act of life to earn a degree in English.
Blackwood (Into Africa) recounts her experiences attending Toronto’s York University at age 64 in this enchanting memoir. After retiring from a 37-year career with Canada’s Royal Bank, Blackwood—having already self-published a few memoirs and children’s books—joined the Writers’ Union of Canada. At a group meeting one afternoon, a woman encouraged Blackwood to study English to “add texture” to her writing. Blackwood took the suggestion to heart, resolving to complete an English degree at York University over the course of six years. Her penchant for preparedness is immediately clear, and immediately charming: before classes began, she shopped for her first-ever backpack, took pains to establish her best bus route to campus, and reread syllabi to ensure nothing slipped through the sieve of her aging memory. Classes on “The Bible in Modern Context” and the relationship between famous writers and their favorite drugs, which she initially took simply to amass credits, wound up expanding her horizons in unexpected directions. Despite the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic and a run-in with sarcoma (which was treated with successful surgery), Blackwood graduated magna cum laude in 2021. This inspiring account will resonate with learners of all ages. (Self-published)