Law graduate a lifelong learner at age 69
Law lecturer Professor Alessandro Pelizzon swears he has no favourite student. But if he had to pick, it would be his mum. However, there was no special treatment for Ida Piovesan, 69, who graduated the Bachelor of Laws at Southern Cross University’s Sydney graduation ceremony on Saturday.
Alessandro already had a well-established legal career, including having participated in and supported the drafting of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, and being a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, when his mother Ida decided to follow in his footsteps. With a longstanding interest in the justice system, Ida decided to study law to inspire her children and grandchildren. “I wanted to show them that you can obtain and fulfil your dreams at any stage of your life,” she said.
Ida has always been passionate about learning. Born in Italy, Ida spent the majority of her life in Turin, working as an administration manager at a local school. In 2004, she moved to Australia to provide more opportunities for her children, eventually settling down in Sydney. She studied a number of courses related to nursing, small business and teaching in order to improve her English skills and learn about Australian culture before deciding to enrol in law in 2013.
Ida studied part-time while also caring for her grandchildren. “At the beginning, it was hard, because of the language particularly, and then my language improved and I was challenged with the children because I had to look after them,” she said.
Her son, Alessandro, is a senior lecturer in law at Southern Cross University, and encouraged her to study law. “He gave me some support and guidance but let me do the course by myself,” Ida said.
Alessandro agreed and said she never received any privileged treatment. “Because we have different surnames, we made sure that none of my colleagues ever knew that she was enrolled in their courses until she finished,” he said.
Both mother and son describe their relationship as close; there has been mutual support as they each undertook their legal studies. “When I was young and in my undergraduate courses in Italy, there was absolute support from my mum,” Alessandro said. “Mum has supported me not just during those courses but heavily throughout my PhD when I moved to Australia. Her support has been unwavering since the beginning of my studies. She’s always been a strong supporter of academic pursuits, not just to pursue an academic career but because of the value academic curiosity has in itself.
“So, the support has always been here. And it’s been nice to reciprocate a little when I could while she undertook her studies. Obviously, I let her complete her studies independently but whenever there was administrative help that I could give, I did so. It was good to support her through that period.”
Having finished her course in 2020 but unable to attend a graduation event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ida said it was exciting to finally don a cap and gown. “I invited my grandchildren because they were part of it. I invited Alessandro because he supported me and my daughter was also there. So, it was nice that they could see the chapter finished.”
With a law degree under her belt, Ida now has her sights set on a new challenge: studying counselling. “I enrolled in counselling because of my experience and my age. I think I could be helpful to some people.”
Her son said she is an inspiration. “What was quite inspiring was to see the will to learn and the desire to grow. Mum is the embodiment of a lifelong learner. She is constantly thinking about the next course that she’s going to undertake and complete,” Alessandro said.
Ida advises those considering study to follow their passions. “Be honest and put the best of yourself forward to obtain what you want. You must be strong and never give up.”
Southern Cross University’s Sydney graduation ceremonies took place at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour Theatre on Saturday 20 August 2022. It was the first Southern Cross graduation to be held in Sydney in over three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A record number of more than 530 graduands attended.