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96-Year-Old Graduates University After Surviving WWII And The Pandemic

At a certain age, it's tempting to think that your best days are behind you and that it's too late in life to start something new. It's especially difficult when you see how young geniuses get lauded in the press for their achievements so early in life. And it's right that youthful accomplishments should be praised because success isn't easy, even when it looks easy.

But for all of us who think we've lost our chance at making a dream come true or crossing a life goal off our list, there's a good reason to hold out all the same. His name is Giuseppe Paterno.

Giuseppe Paterno was 93 when he finally enrolled in university.

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The Sicily native had always wanted to get a higher education but life got in the way, as it so often does. Born into poverty, Giuseppe could only receive the most basic education in his pre-Great Depression childhood, Reuters reported. Although he loved to read, the opportunities simply weren't there for him.

And then, World War II broke out.

During the war, Giuseppe served in the navy.

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And afterwards, he started a family and began working on the railways, helping to rebuild a war-torn nation. He wasn't even able to finish his high school education until he was 31.

Busy with work and family, he simply didn't have time to go as far with his education as he would have liked. Giuseppe eventually retired from the railway in 1984.

However, it wasn't until 2017 that he finally took the plunge to get a college degree.

Facebook | Università degli Studi di Palermo

"I said, 'that's it, now or never,' and so in 2017, I decided to enrol," Giuseppe told Reuters. "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.'"

He could, and he did it his own old-school way, typing out his essays on an old typewriter and foregoing Google in favor of books for his research.

The COVID-19 pandemic did throw Giuseppe a curve ball as he had to take his courses online.

Facebook | Università degli Studi di Palermo

However, given all that he had already been through in his life, he wasn't that put off by it all. "All of that strengthened us, all of my peer group, all of those who are still alive," he told Reuters. "It didn’t really scare us that much."

On July 29, it all became official as Giuseppe was presented with the laurel wreath traditionally given to Italian graduates. He graduated with top honors, first in his class, with a degree in History and Philosophy from the University of Palermo, and he's now the oldest ever to graduate in Italy.

Now that he has his degree, Giuseppe plans to do even more.

Facebook | Università degli Studi di Palermo

"Knowledge is like a suitcase that I carry with me, it is a treasure," he told Reuters.

"My project for the future is to devote myself to writing; I want to revisit all the texts I didn’t have a chance to explore further. This is my goal."

h/t: Reuters

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