In a society where there are age restrictions everywhere, I chose to find my own path. I am a 55-year-old woman who has always dreamt of flying high in life. I wanted to earn a doctorate degree, but that could not happen due to my marriage at a young age. I was married at the age of 25. So I put my dream of completing my PhD on hold. It was not an easy decision, but in India, household responsibilities in most middle classes make you do so.
For the next two decades, I worked and ran the house. But, in between, after seventeen years of marriage, I lost my husband in 2009, leaving behind my daughter and me. But life did not stop there. My daughter has been a constant pillar of support in my weak and vigorous moments of life. After her graduation, she said, "Mama, it's your turn now!"
So I enrolled myself on the PhD program at the age of 48. I remember during admission, one of the administrators tells me, "So you have come for your daughter's admission?" and my daughter was quick to reply, "No, my mother is getting enrolled". People used to ask me...What is the point now? You are already married, working and well settled in life, it's such a waste of time. But I believe education never goes to waste, and there should not be any age barrier for reading and learning.
I went back to university two decades after my education. My classmates were more than 20 years younger than me. Initially, it used to be awkward. All used to dress up in western dresses, I was the only one in a sari. But with time, I made friends. We used to hang out, exchange notes, indulge in discussions. I thoroughly enjoyed my student life again. It felt like life reversed 20 years back.
It usually takes three years to complete a PhD But it took me six years, due to obvious reasons. But I followed my code of ethics and never indulged in cheating. After work, I used to stay awake and complete my homework, just like a good obedient student. For those 6 years, I used to write research papers, hosted various conferences besides my job. During the time, I was also awarded for the 'best paper' in my research program. At 54, I finally fulfilled my doctorate dream in November last year.
Besides having a PhD degree under my belt, I am an IATA Certified Instructor from Montreal Canada and have been associated with the aviation and travel industry for more than 20 years. I am presently working with local communities, artisans, the visually impaired and various slum dwellers to impart vocational skills in Tourism. My passion lies in vocational training. I am a firm believer that local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits.
Age should not determine our dreams, I believe. It's never too late to follow your heart and create history.
If you too have an inspiring story to tell the world, send us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org