Making the Grade

Eighty-five year old life-long learner set to fulfill educational goal

By Elaine Gerou, Managing Editor

By Elaine Gerou, Managing Editor

With only four classes to go to complete her associates and a 3.77 GPA, Westland resident Violet Janowski fell and broke her hip in her kitchen last fall and had to accept a zero. She is currently 85 years old, has no intentions of giving up on her degree and plans to complete her associate of art in May 2015 at the age of 86.

“At her age, to do that, it’s amazing,” said her 62-year-old son, Ronald Janowski.

He went on to say that after the unlucky tumble his mother took a sociology class in the spring semester with Professor Karen Schaumann-Beltran. Due to the inury, his brother and he had to switch off driving Violet Janowski to class and helping her with her walker.

“Violet is a joy to have in class. She comes to class prepared, and is a dedicated student. She is open to learning new things and applies what she is learning to the real world,” said Professor Schaumann-Beltran.

Although Violet Janowski had not gone to school since her high school graduation in 1947, she began her college education 58 years later at Schoolcraft in 2005 after her husband passed away.

“I always wanted to go back, but wasn’t able to,” said Violet Janowski.

“The three of us [her sons] thought it was fantastic for her to go back to school. We are extremely proud,” said Ronald Janowski. “She is not one to sit around.”

Violet Janowski is now up and getting around well after months of resting. She read 16 books from the end of her spring class to the beginning of the fall semester.

“Stay in school, and even though it’s hard and you don’t like it. You have to make up your mind because you have to think about what is going to happen later in life. If you don’t have any kind of training or any kind of education, you’re not going to make it in today’s world. You got to keep up in this world,” said Violet Janowski. “There’s no sense getting stressed about it [homework]; you just have to do it. And if you don’t understand it, go get help,”

Violet Janowski, 85, intensely studies her book in her math class located at the Radcliff Center. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

Violet Janowski, 85, intensely studies her book in her math class located at the Radcliff Center. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

Violet Janowski likes to study at night and on weekends, and her favorite classes are history related. If she takes 2 more psychology courses, she will also earn a psychology degree.

Violet Janowski regularly goes to the Radcliff Center in Garden City for help, and will take her last math course there this fall semester. She will complete her final class in the winter term to complete her Schoolcraft education.

“For my own sake, I want to graduate. I can say that I got my degree after all these years—that I made it. It would be easy to quit and forget about it, but that’s not going to way with me,” said Violet Janowski.

After earning her associate degree, Violet Janowski plans to volunteer in Livonia schools to help first and second graders learn to read.

“I just thought that I wanted to use my associate degree somewhere where it will be benefitting to other people,” said Violet Janowski.

She also hopes to get back to mowing her own lawn and planting flowers in the near future as her hip heals and gains strength. Violet Janowski may also run for city council in Westland, as she tried to in the past, but missed a deadline.

While her educational journey was challenging, Violet Janowski has enjoyed attending Schoolcraft for the past nine years. Young or old, never let miniscule obstacles prevent dreams from coming true.