After a Long Career in Nursing, 80-Year-Old Mexican Woman Receives Law Degree

Lead Photo: Art by Alan López for Remezcla
Art by Alan López for Remezcla
Read more

At 80 years old, María Dolores Ballesteros is ready to embark on a new career in law. The Mexican woman – whose father always placed a strong emphasis on education – decided to go back to school a few years ago. And this week, she accomplished her goal and received her second degree – a licenciatura in law from the Universidad del Valle de México.

Ballesteros first enrolled in college as a young woman and graduated the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico with a nursing degree. María then began working at several clinics, but she spent the bulk of her career at the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología, el Centro Médico Nacional and el Hospital Español. Specializing in internal medicine and gastroenterology, she even witnessed the first kidney transplant in Mexico, according to Verne.

After a few years of working as a nurse – which included stints in Canada and the United States – Ballesteros wanted a change of scenery so she went back to school. She studied international relations at UNAM, though she didn’t complete her studies.

But she didn’t stray too far from academia. She opened her own nursing school in her Mexico City home. The school – which is still up and running today – has served more than 500 students. It’s working with young adults that inspired her next move: studying law.

“I’m happy coexisting with young people, because they inject me with health, energy, and enthusiasm,” she told Verne, adding that her recent go at school was a positive experience. “It went marvelously, because I was near the school and being older, the professors and my classmates treated me with a lot of kindness.”

Though she enjoyed going back to school, there were also some challenges, mainly technological ones. Before beginning her studies, she didn’t know how to use the internet. But school required that she navigate the World Wide Web, so María, with her go-getter mentality, did it. And much like any other law school student, María pulled all-nighters.

María is most interested in civil, criminal, and agricultural law. Her hope is to use her legal degree to work with community leaders in Magdalena Contreras.