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.

What price would you put on a kid's 'miracle'?

At nine years of age, Quiń had an accident that caused a cataract to one of his eyes. In an instant; this little boy with his whole life ahead of him faced a future of blindness.

Thousands of Aussies joining campaign to restore sight to kids

Mayor's plan to bring Son of Lismore's cabinet home

TALENTED: Geoff Hannah with Minister For The Arts Mitch Fifield, Jenny Dowell, Kevin Hogan, Thomas George and Brett Adlington at the opening and unveiling of his work at Lismore Regional Gallery.

Mayor Dowell wants famous cabinet for regional gallery

Latest deals and offers

The perils of play: How kids are most likely to be hurt

THE thought of your child suffering a life-threatening accident is the stuff of parents’ nightmares.

What price would you put on a kid's 'miracle'?

At nine years of age, Quiń had an accident that caused a cataract to one of his eyes. In an instant; this little boy with his whole life ahead of him faced a future of blindness.

Thousands of Aussies joining campaign to restore sight to kids

Mayor's plan to bring Son of Lismore's cabinet home

TALENTED: Geoff Hannah with Minister For The Arts Mitch Fifield, Jenny Dowell, Kevin Hogan, Thomas George and Brett Adlington at the opening and unveiling of his work at Lismore Regional Gallery.

Mayor Dowell wants famous cabinet for regional gallery

Flood watch issued for Qld, NSW

NSW State Emergency Service warns of heavy rain

Blood-stained clothes seized after axe attack

Lismore Court House.

A landlord has been charged over an axe attack on her tenant

School girl porn ring site goes offline

The Federal Government is yet to confirm if the site has been taken down or simply moved to different offshore servers.

Controversial Australian nude school girl rating site disappears.

John Williamson winding up for another Gympie Muster

John Williamson is bringing some new songs and artists to this year's Muster.

John Williamson is back and ready to put on his best show ever

Zumbo's Willy Wonka hat trick trips up Queensland brickie

Adriano Zumbo and Rachel Khoo with Zumbo's floating dessert in a scene from Zumbo's Just Desserts.

NOOSA'S Michael Basset asked to recreate floating chocolate dish.

John Lennon's killer denied parole for 9th time

John Lennon

John Lennon's killer has been denied parole for the ninth time.

Mexican band takes aim at Trump

Disguised as unhinged narcotraficantes, the Mexican-American agitators of BRUJERIA captured the mood of the citys minorities with the bands infamous and widely banned 1993 debut, Matando Geros (Killing White People), quickly becoming the Spanish-language counterparts to early grindcore masters TERRORIZER and NAPALM DEATH.  Photo Contributed

'Satanic drug lord' band challenges Trump

Willy Wonka star, Gene Wilder dead at 83

A still of Gene Wilder in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Social media has already lit up with tributes to the late actor.

Gladstone couple's spontaneous Gympie Muster wedding

Craig Oglesby and Brenda Strong celebrate their wedding at the Gympie Muster with punters in front of the Main Stage.

The Gympie Music Muster was the perfect place for a wedding.

Australian Survivor's Peter: I'm no quitter

Australian Survivor contestant Peter Fiegehen.

ILLNESS forces castaway's early exit from Samoa.

Australia's most expensive balcony and it hasn't been built

Viridian Noosa.

How Noosa millionares' squabble could affect body corporates

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.