Extraordinary People

Man becomes a fresher aged 96… then graduates with top class honours

Giuseppe Paternò had wanted a university education since childhood

‘It’s never too late to try something new’ often sounds like nothing but a cliché.

Though one man is living proof that it really is never too late!

So, if you need a little inspiration to try something new yourself, feast your eyes on Giuseppe Paternò who has become a graduate at the grand young age of 96.

Not only did Giuseppe show age ain’t nothing but a number, he also smashed a world record to become Italy’s oldest graduate ever. Oh, and also passed with first-class honours.

[Credit: Keith Luke / Unsplash]

Studying philosophy at the University of Palermo, Giuseppe says he achieved a lifelong dream.

Despite being a little kid with big aspirations while growing up in Sicily in the 1930s, a few things got in the way – namely, poverty, war and supporting a family.

He was also the eldest of seven siblings and had to help his father with his job at a brewery.

Yet now Giuseppe – who also worked as a telegrapher for the Italian army in the 1940s – says he has achieved what he set out to do all those years ago.

Giuseppe said: “I’ve finally realised my dream. Being able to study has always been my greatest aspiration, but my family wasn’t able to pay for education. We were a large family and very poor.”

[Credit: Thom Milkovich / Unsplash]

Fortunately, Giuseppe came out unscathed from the war and took a job working for the railway service. However, he still dared to dream.

He added: “I wasn’t enthused about my job, but I knew I had to do it because by that time I was married and had a family to support.

“At the same time, I had an overwhelming desire to dive into books and read, study and learn.”

Fast-forward to 2017, and Giuseppe enrolled in his course along with all the other freshers.  

Dedicated and determined to secure a good result, Giuseppe would wake up at 7am to study before resting in the afternoon and studying again in the evening until midnight.

[Credit: Dom Fou / Unsplash]

Giuseppe said: “My neighbours used to ask, ‘Why all this trouble at your age?’ But they couldn’t understand the importance of reaching a dream, regardless of my age.”

Even when the global pandemic hit, Giuseppe was not fazed and evolved from his old typewriter to new technology so he could submit his assignments remotely.

And his efforts finally paid off, when his he graduated top of his class in the summer of 2020.

He concluded: “It’s one of the happiest days of my entire life. I only wish my wife were here to see me. She died 14 years ago.

“I’m considering carrying on for a master’s degree. My mother lived to be 100. If the numbers and the genetics are on my side, then I still have four years left.”

What a trooper!

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