2018 J.D. Leslie Prize Winner

Jennifer Roy

A Long Journey

This year’s J.D. Leslie Prize winner, Jennifer Roy, is not your typical university graduate.  She has just finished writing a novel, she travels extensively (having visited 66 countries), she is one of the few to hike the 900km+ Bruce Trail and she’s been an amazing role model for her children. Jennifer also turned 70 years old this month.

The J.D. Leslie Prize is awarded to a graduating student who has achieved a first-class standing and earned 50% or more of the credits for their undergraduate degree through online courses.

Jennifer truly exemplifies the spirit of lifelong learning. She made it her goal to earn her degree before her 70th birthday, and achieved that by completing a Bachelor of Arts (General) in Liberal Studies with a Career Development Practitioner Option almost entirely online, and she graduated on the Dean’s Hours List.

When asked about the early days of her educational journey at Waterloo, Jennifer says “I started my degree in 1996 when I had a hectic full time job working 10 hours per day. I also had 2 teenagers and a home to run. To begin with my children were my motivation. I wanted to instill in them the importance of education. Today they have 5 degrees between them.”

There are no universities near the town where Jennifer lives and worked, and so studying via distance education/online learning was the only way she could achieve her goal.

“The lectures in [her] first term came as taped cassettes which arrived in the mail at the beginning of the course.Assignments were faxed in and returned … by mail usually by the TA. There was absolutely no interaction with either the Professor or fellow students.

Jennifer believes that “online/distance education has come a long way. In [her] last term [they] worked and interacted as a team on assignments taking on different roles. [She] evolved as the media for presenting the courses evolved. It has been great to work with other students and get their opinions.”

She quickly discovered a real love of learning and she came to “enjoy the courses so much that it did not feel like work.” She also believes in the importance of exercising your mind as well as your body as you get older. She attributes her success to “hard work and determination!!”

Lifelong Learning for All

“Although on-line courses are more expensive to develop, they better support the notion of lifelong learning, allowing older individuals … to combine work/family commitments and educational development.

Jennifer "thinks as a society we must leave behind the belief that education is associated with youth. Broadening one’s mind should not be restricted to 19 to 24 year olds from families who can afford to send their children away to university.”

Her Advice to You

“It’s never too late and you are never too old to learn.”