Extraordinary People

‘Follow your dreams’ 89-year-old smashes age stereotypes to earn PhD

A true role model

We’ve become so accustomed to saying ‘I’m old’ each time a birthday rolls around, regardless of hitting 18 or 80, that we forget how young we actually are.

Not Manfred Steiner.

This chap is flying the flag for everyone who feels young at heart.

Proving life is just beginning in his 80s, the age-ain’t-nothin’-but-a-number whiz went back to school and earned his PhD – one year shy of turning 90.

[Credit: Leon Wu]

Despite a successful career as a doctor, with a focus on hematology [study of blood], he always had a love affair with physics and this niggling feeling never vanished.

And so, at 89, he finally fulfilled that dream, earning his qualification from the prestigious Brown University which counts Harry Potter’s Emma Watson amongst its alumni.

Speaking about his achievements, Manfred – who grew up in Vienna before moving to the US – casually threw in that it is his third doctorate, but it’s this one he cherishes the most.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

Manfred said: “I am really on top of the world. I always had this dream: Gee, someday I would like to become a physicist.

“When I was a medical student in the early 50s, I used to sneak into the physical institute and listen to talks because I was so interested, particularly in quantum physics, the new stuff at that time.”

Now, the grandfather hopes to inspire future generations to follow their dreams and resist the negative thinking that life is over at a certain age.

[Credit: Karlis Reimanis]

Chatting to a local radio station, Manfred said: “You know, it took a long time. There were medical problems in between that were very serious. But fortunately, I’m here now.

“All the young people, if they have a dream, follow that dream. Don’t give up on it. If it doesn’t work out, he said, they can go into something else. But first, follow your dream.”

Despite having been awarded the highest level of academic study, Manfred is far from finished and plans to continue “as long as my mind says okay”.

The everyday hero added: “I’m going to do some studies with theoretical physics. I don’t need a lab. I just need a computer, and I need paper and pencil.”

Just off to browse the local uni website for courses…

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