Williams Lake senior determined to graduate from high school at 77

Student Ollie Martens works on a math problem at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Student Ollie Martens works on a math problem at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Ollie Martens, left, is enjoying taking high school math courses with her instructor John Salvatore at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Ollie Martens, left, is enjoying taking high school math courses with her instructor John Salvatore at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Ollie Martens of Williams Lake is living proof one can always learn new things.

She turned 77 on Jan. 3 and aside from working part-time as a security guard she is taking high school math courses at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Williams Lake Campus so she can achieve her Grade 12.

“I got my G.E.D. 45 years ago but I never graduated,” she said.

Mother of five, grandmother of 10 and great grandmother of two, the energetic senior said one of the reasons she decided to go to school at this point was because her life changed a year-and-a-half-ago when her husband Richard Martens died.

They were married for 56 years and not having him in her life anymore was a big adjustment.

“I needed a reason to get up in the morning,” she said.

She started out by taking a three-month security guard course through WorkBC last spring, which she completed in two months.

When she wrote the licensing exam in April she aced it.

Raving about TRU Williams Lake, Martens said she is provided with free tutoring at the campus.

“Dustin Batty is my tutor and he is perfect. He is so kind and has such a great sense of humour. He is originally from Miocene and moved back to Williams Lake this year.”

In January she will take Grade 10 math and in June start Grade 11.

She already has university English and Sociology which she took years ago at Cariboo College in Williams Lake.

For 50 years off and on she worked as a nurse.

During the Pierre Elliott Trudeau era she was sponsored to take the licensed practical nursing program at College of New Caledonia in Prince George, she explained.

With four children at home, she hired a nanny so she could go to school.

She worked for 39 years at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake and prior to that she worked in Burns Lake and at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, MB.

Born in Steinbach, MB, she grew up on a farm south of the town.

Quick to encourage everyone and anyone to considering taking courses at TRU, she noted the staff and students are very helpful and kind.

For her birthday it was anticipated Melissa Newbery on staff planned to bring Martens a cake.

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monica.lamb-yorski@wltribune.com

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