79-year old woman earns her degree in Rio de Janeiro



Note from BW of Brazil: Great story here! One of dedication, determination and desire. Educational inequality has a long history in Brazil that the system of affirmative action has only begun to address in the past decades or so. For many years Afro-Brazilians were denied the right to an education and when it was legally possible, many were simply not able to remain in school beyond the elementary level having to begin work in menial jobs often as children to help their families survive. Besides this, Brazil’s education system ranks among the worst in the world and it will take a complete overhaul to address long-standing structural problems before long term educational inequalities can truly be addressed. Thus, today’s story is bittersweet. Sweet because an elderly woman proved that one is never too old to learn and achieve. But bitter due to the fact that we will never know how her life may have differed had she had the same opportunities as others in such a vastly racially and socially unequal country as Brazil. 

79 year old Leonides Victorino learned to read and write at age 67
79 year old Leonides Victorino learned to read and write at age 67

Elderly woman learns to read and at age 79 graduates from university in Rio

Courtesy of Diário Sergipano

Leonides Victorino poses with one of her grandchildren
Leonides Victorino with one of her grandchildren

An elderly resident of the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, decided to learn to read and write at age 67. Today, at 79, Leonides Victorino, born in Zona da Mata in the state of Minas Gerais, now has a university degree in Art History. The story was told by RJTV, on Thursday, July 23rd.

Leonides recently earned a degree at age 79
Leonides recently earned a degree at age 79

Leonides spent her childhood on the farm. She began working as a maid and laundress, but never lost her focus. “I was kind of sad, people said that I was illiterate, it felt like there was a knife that cut through my heart,” she said.

Leonides Victorino with her grandchildren
Leonides Victorino with her grandchildren

That’s when she, at 67, decided to put into practice her dream of learning to read and write, along with her five grandchildren.


In 2014, there was another achievement. Leonides graduated in Art History at the Universidade da Terceira Idade (University of the Third Age) in Uerj (State University of Rio de Janeiro). “I dream big, not small dream, no,” she joked.

Source: Diário Sergipano

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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