No Age Limit on Learning for MEd Graduate who is Now Pursuing her PhD

Alumni Success

March 24, 2017

Written by Erin Hatfield

For senior law clerk Barbara O’Gorman, the thirst for knowledge has no age limit.  From working at a busy Toronto law firm to pursuing her education, sixty-nine-year-old O’Gorman has an inspiring life-long passion for excellence, which led her to Yorkville University.

“I investigated Yorkville’s Master of Education in Adult Education, applied, was accepted and didn’t look back,” she said.

In fact, after having graduated from Yorkville in 2016, O’Gorman is now looking forward to starting classes in a PhD. Program in Adult Education.

O’Gorman’s path to her doctorate was set in motion when the first course she took in Yorkville’s Adult Education program was taught by Dorothy MacKeracher, who also happens to be the author of one of the first books O’Gorman had read on the subject.

“I was very impressed,” she said. “Yorkville has a lot of really good professors that I have learned from, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful students from across Canada in this program.”

It wasn’t always easy, though.

“When I first took research, I thought, ‘oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?’” laughed O’Gorman. “But I learned so much from Darryl [Bautista], and I really enjoyed his class. When I was doing my thesis, I asked him to be my thesis advisor, because he would stay late every day, answering questions. I live in Toronto, and I’m up at four in the morning, and he would still be up! He was incredibly dedicated.”

As was the case while completing her Master of Arts in Adult Education at Yorkville, O’Gorman plans to keep working in Law throughout her PhD. program as well. “What do I want to do with a PhD?” she asked rhetorically.

“It’s just something I want to do. I want to keep my mind active, because I’m a firm believer in lifelong learning—I don’t believe in retirement! I believe that as long as you’re healthy and you like what you’re doing, you can diversify and keep yourself going.  I love my job, but if there comes a time when I’m no longer working as a law clerk, I’d love to be able to pick up teaching Master’s level students.”

O’Gorman attributes her drive and ambition in part to her innate personality.

“My undergrad friends told me that I was a high achiever, and I would say ‘no way, no way’, but when I opened my eyes to that and reflected on what I was doing, I knew I always wanted to do the best that I could,” she admitted. “Even in high school, I was the president of my class, editor of the newspaper, playing basketball, and working part time, so it goes way back.”

O’Gorman also recognizes that success is a result of habit and perspective.

“I’m in a high-profile job, and everybody talks to me because I don’t procrastinate. I’m a crazy person!” she said.  “The more work I have, the more I get done. When you’re busy, you deal with it, and you move on, and I like the responsibility: I like being able to help people, I like giving more than what they expect from you. When I teach, I tell my students, ‘your job description is not what someone tells you to do, your job description is what you need to be responsible for, and you need to be self-directed, so that you create, and make yourself valuable.  Then people can’t do without you.”

The confidence and authority in O’Gorman’s voice is unmistakable. “Never be afraid to ask questions, but do your research, so you have the dialogue to supplement what you already know.”