Jane Jones: not your average undergrad

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Jane Jones practices her French and reflects on her time studying abroad last summer.

Knitting and sewing, naps and nursing homes, crosswords and canes, these are the things commonly associated with people who have surpassed the age 65. Well, 80 year-old Jane Jones is not your average Joe.

Jones chose Southern Miss as the institution where she would fulfill her promise to her parents by continuing her education and obtaining a degree in English.  

“When I left school many many years ago, after three years I promised them that I would finish, and it’s about time that I finish and do it.”

Jones also participated in the study abroad program in France this past summer, and those who traveled along beside her had lots to say.

French professor and co-director of the summer French in France program Keltoum Rowland said, “She was so sweet. She never complained. Our first day we walked maybe eight or nine miles, and I never heard anything. She was a trooper, and there is no age for study abroad.”

Junior international business major Kaitlyn Skinner said, ”At the interest meeting I thought Jane wasn’t the one who was the student, and I thought her daughter was. But that was opposite.”

Skinner went on to admit, “Jane was one of the people kickin it. She got around better than us.”  

According to those who have worked with her, her presence is enriching; bringing wisdom, experience and spunk, and that appreciation seemed to be mutual.

“It was wonderful, and I want to thank USM for the opportunity to study abroad,” Jones said. It’s just an absolutely wonderful program. It’s easy access and it fun. Our leader Madame Keltoum, could not have been anymore perfect. She was a great teacher, full of enthusiasm.”

Southern Miss student Kaitlyn Skinner fondly recalled her study abroad experience with Jones.

“When you think about older people you automatically think, ‘Oh they’re fragile and need to be taken care of.’ I watched Jane get slammed in a pair of metro doors, and she was fine.”

“It was an awesome study abroad,” Rowland said. “I would take 10 Janes if I could”

Junior psychology major Hailee Buras remarked, “I just thought it was really awesome that she’s this age and getting to experience this.”

Jones’ advice to anyone considering furthering their education is to do it in their own timing and own way.

“Don’t hesitate. Make any plans that you need to make. Start right now. Whether financial, professors, or guidance because you will be happy you did,” Jones said.