News

Oldest graduate's fourth degree

Allan Stewart’s lecturer, Dr Sonya Brownie, adjusts his gown before the graduation.
Allan Stewart’s lecturer, Dr Sonya Brownie, adjusts his gown before the graduation.

He was 21 when he first graduated in dentistry with honours from Sydney University.

That was 76 years ago, in 1936.

His second degree was a Doctor of Dental Surgery from a Chicago university, after which he spent many years working as a dentist in regional NSW, London and Sydney.

He completed his third degree, in law, six years ago when he was only 91, and went into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest graduate.

Allan Stewart said at that time he was going to hang up his academic robes and mortar bored.

"But then, I got bored," he said.

"I have so much time on my hands these days and I like to keep mentally active."

So he enrolled in another degree through Southern Cross University's Lismore campus - and now at the age of 97 he's achieved his fourth degree - Master of Clinical Science (Complementary Medicine).

Mr Stewart walked briskly down a long flight of steps and on to the stage at SCU's Whitebrook Theatre last Friday to receive his degree and deliver the graduate address to his fellow students.

He told them he had no idea when he graduated with his first degree that he would still be learning and studying at the age of 97.

"So I would encourage each of you to embrace lifelong learning with a passion," he said.

"Never think you are too old to either begin study, or to put another qualification under your belt."

The nonagenarian practises five types of fitness: fitness of mind, body, purpose, spirit - and social fitness.

When his SCU supervisor, Dr Sonya Brownie, introduced him to the concept of "social capital" he took it on board at once.

"I invest heavily in that at every opportunity," he said.

"There is evidence that social interaction enhances the ageing body and favourably stimulates brain chemicals."

He took the complementary medicine course to enlarge his knowledge of healthy ageing.

It was not without its challenges - when he began he had little knowledge of new distance learning technologies, but quickly became proficient at using online library databases, interactive online discussion boards and Skype.

"Now I help others to master the intricacies of the worldwide web as a volunteer at the local community technology centre," he told The Echo.

Mr Stewart lives independently in his own home north of Newcastle. He has six children, one deceased, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He said he lives a "reasonably active life", enjoys still having an unrestricted driver's licence, and is "addicted to the computer".

He works in his garden where he grows vegetables and fruit; acts as a carer to a friend, walks, swims, cooks, and meditates.

"I'm in pretty good health, take practically no medication, and have no cardio-vascular problems," he said.

To what does he attribute the good health he's enjoying as he approaches his 100th birthday?

"To some extent it's in my genes," he replied.

"But practising the five kinds of fitness, and doing a whole body scan from the top of my head to the tips of my toes three times when I meditate probably helps."

Mr Stewart said he had no plans for further study but will share his thoughts on healthy ageing as a guest speaker at local clubs.

And although he has no plans to enter the workforce in complementary medicine, he plans to pass on his skills to family and friends if they seek his advice.

Allan Stewart

I have so much time on my hands these days and I like to keep mentally active


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

These local movies will shine at 10th Byron Film Festival

LOCAL STORIES: One of the films featured this year is The Bentley Effect, a documentary about the Bentley Blockade.

THIS year marks a milestone for the Byron Bay Film Festival

Graceful Russian ballerinas will perform Swan Lake

ON STAGE: The Russian National Ballet Theatre brings their production of Swan Lake, the full length classical performance.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre is coming soon

Baird dogged by fears greyhound ban will cost Nationals seat

Mike Baird may hold off on implementing the greyhound racing ban until 2020 as he tries to woo voters back into the National fold before the Orange by-election.

Could Orange by-election force Baird to delay greyhound racing ban?

Local Partners

Junior golfer makes the most of regional opportunity

Forget the HSC< Murwillumbah school leaver Lucas Higgins has the biggest test of his golfing career on the horizon.

It's time to get your shorts on the big screen

ANIMATED: Citizen To Activist, an animation by David Lowe and Eve Jeffrey, won the Jury Award for best Short Film at Flickerfest 2015 - Byron AllShorts.

Entries for Flickerfest 2017 and Byron All Shorts are now open

These local movies will shine at 10th Byron Film Festival

LOCAL STORIES: One of the films featured this year is The Bentley Effect, a documentary about the Bentley Blockade.

THIS year marks a milestone for the Byron Bay Film Festival

Graceful Russian ballerinas will perform Swan Lake

ON STAGE: The Russian National Ballet Theatre brings their production of Swan Lake, the full length classical performance.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre is coming soon

Baird dogged by fears greyhound ban will cost Nationals seat

Mike Baird may hold off on implementing the greyhound racing ban until 2020 as he tries to woo voters back into the National fold before the Orange by-election.

Could Orange by-election force Baird to delay greyhound racing ban?

Are government staffers talking Wentworth Park sale?

Greyhounds race at the Wentworth Park ahead of the industry's July 2017 shutdown.

No answer on whether government staff discussed Wentworth Parl sale

Justice delayed is justice denied in NSW courts

Court backlogs trigger push for break and enter law change

Communication breakdown in NSW fishing reforms

State-wide commercial fishing industry reforms have left fishers confused about their futures.

Non-English speaking fishers confused at industry-wide reforms

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Daniel Radcliffe hoped for haircut anonymity

Radcliffe thought shaving his head would make him more anonymous

Jim Carrey slams 'shameful greed' of lawsuit

Jim Carrey has slammed the "shameful greed" of White's ex-husband.

'Highly unlikely' Brad Pitt will face prosecution

It is highly unlikely that Brad Pitt will be prosecuted

WATCH: Justin Bieber grabbed in Germany

A video has emerged of singer Justin Bieber being attacked

Why The Wrong Girl is right for Jessica Marais

Jessica Marais and Ian Meadows in a scene from the TV series The Wrong Girl.

ACTOR makes the sometimes awkward character her own in new comedy.

What's on the small screen this week

Jessica Marais in a scene from the TV series The Wrong Girl.

A NEW romantic comedy debuts while footy codes ramp up for finals.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction

Peppers Airlie Beach put on the market

ON THE MARKET: Peppers Airlie Beach is being for recievership sale by CBRE Hotels and PRD Nationwide Airlie Beach.

Peppers Airlie Beach is being offered for sale.

3500 jobs on the way with new $950 million resort

Residential, tourist, community, and open space on Hummock Hill Island.

PROPERTY developers plan to begin construction next year.