An Italian man became the nation’s oldest graduate after passing his final exams at the age of 96, Reuters reported.
World War II veteran Giuseppe Paterno completed his undergraduate degree in history and philosophy from the University of Palermo.
“I am a normal person, like many others,” Paterno said in an interview with Reuters. “In terms of age I have surpassed all the others but I didn’t do it for this.”
In 2017, Paterno decided to enroll and finally get his degree. He completed his work with a typewriter from the ’80s, using print editions of books instead of the Internet to complete his research.
“I said, ‘That’s it, now or never,’ and so in 2017, I decided to enroll,” Paterno said. “I understood that it was a little late to get a three-year degree but I said to myself ‘Let’s see if I can do it’.”
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Born to a poor family in Sicily before the Great Depression, Paterno joined the navy and served in World War II.
He had to wait until after the war to graduate from high school, completing his education at the age of 31. He went on to work in the railways as he married and raised a family.
After surviving childhood poverty, war and – now – pandemic, he completed his graduation ceremony before family and teachers, as well as students more than 70 years his junior, Reuters reported.
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“You are an example for younger students,” his sociology professor, Francesca Rizzuto, told him after he passed his final oral examination in June.