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Knowledge a ‘treasure’ for Italy’s oldest pupil, who graduates at 96

At 96, Giuseppe Paterno has confronted many exams in life – childhood poverty, conflict and, extra not too long ago, the coronavirus pandemic. Now he has sailed by way of an examination that makes him Italy’s oldest college graduate.

This week, the previous railway employee stepped ahead to obtain his diploma and the standard laurel wreath awarded to Italian college students once they graduate, applauded by his household, lecturers and fellow college students greater than 70 years his junior.

“I am a normal person, like many others,” he mentioned, when requested what it felt wish to be graduating so late. “In terms of age I have surpassed all the others but I didn’t do it for this.”

Already in his 90s when he enrolled for a level in History and Philosophy on the University of Palermo, Paterno grew up loving books, however he by no means had the possibility to check.

“I said, ‘that’s it, now or never,’ and so in 2017, I decided to enrol,” he informed Reuters in his residence within the Sicilian metropolis of Palermo, which he not often leaves these days because of his frailty.

“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’.”

On Wednesday, he graduated first in his class with high honours, receiving congratulations from the college chancellor Fabrizio Micari.


Growing up in a poor household in Sicily within the years earlier than the Great Depression, Paterno obtained solely primary education as a toddler. He joined the navy and served throughout World War Two earlier than happening to work within the railways as he married and introduced up two kids.

In a society centered on rebuilding after the conflict, work and household have been the priorities, however Paterno wished to be taught and graduated from highschool on the age of 31, all the time harbouring a need to go additional.

“Knowledge is like a suitcase that I carry with me, it is a treasure,” he mentioned.

As a pupil, he tapped out his essays on the handbook typewriter his mom gave him when he retired from the railways in 1984. He eschewed Google in favour of printed books and was not tempted by the late-night pupil events of his 20-year-old classmates, who applauded him warmly on the commencement ceremony.

“You are an example for younger students,” his Sociology professor, Francesca Rizzuto, informed him after he handed his closing oral examination in June.

Paterno confessed to slightly unease with the video calls that changed classroom instructing throughout the coronavirus shutdown, however mentioned he was not postpone by the illness itself after the conflict and every little thing else he had been by way of.

“All of that strengthened us, all of my peer group, all of those who are still alive,” he mentioned. “It didn’t really scare us that much.”

As for what he deliberate to do subsequent, he mentioned he was not about to cease now he had graduated.

“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.”

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