96-year-old Giuseppe Paterno enrolled in 2017 at the University of Palermo. He graduated at the top of his class with a degree in history and philosophy and now is the oldest person to graduate college in Italy.
Giuseppe Paterno, 96, graduated from the University of Palermo with a degree in history and philosophy and set the new record.
He graduated at the top of his class and became the oldest man to graduate the college in Italy.
"I am a normal person, like many others. In terms of age, I have surpassed all the others but I didn’t do it for this," Paterno told Reuters after graduating. "I said, 'That's it, now or never,' and so in 2017, I decided to enroll."
Giuseppe used to work in railway but left his job to pursue his dream. He had been working towards his degree for the past three years and was appreciated by everybody from his classmates, 70 years younger than him, to the university staff and his family.
"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 added.
Paterno spent his childhood in poverty and only received basic education. He then joined the navy and served during World War II, according to Reuters. After that, Paterno got married and pursued his career in railways to make a living for his wife and two kids.
All these difficulties didn't stop Paterno from being passionate about learning and furthering his education. He managed to graduate high school at the age of 31 but then was unable to further continue his education. He finally enrolled in 2017 for a degree in history and philosophy and finished college three years later at the age of 96.
When enrolled, Paterno always relied on a manual typewriter that his mother gave him after retiring from the railroad in 1984. Besides that, he also used printed books as opposed to Google for research. But then the pandemic started, forcing Paterno to learn through video conferences from his home in Palermo. This all didn't stop him but only made him stronger.
"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."
"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," he explained to the outlet. "Knowledge is like a suitcase that I carry with me, it is a treasure."