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The 96-year-old Italian has fulfilled a dream and earned his bachelor’s degree. Now he’s going to graduate school

It’s never too late.

Giuseppe Paterno, 96, has become the oldest university graduate in Italy. He graduated with honors from the University of Palermo and received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, writes The Guardian.

Giuseppe Paterno Photo by Guillelmo Manjapane, Reuters

Paterno began thinking about getting higher education as a child, which he spent in Sicily in the 1930s. Poverty, war and the need to help the family interfered. “The opportunity to study has always been my main pursuit, but my family could not pay for my education. There were many of us and we were very poor, ”he said.

Paterno, the eldest of seven siblings, began working as a child helping his father at a brewery in Palermo. In July 1943, when the Allied forces landed in Sicily, he joined the Italian army as a telegraph operator.

After the war, the man began working on the railroad. “I was not thrilled with my job, but by that time I was married and had to support my family,” Paterno said. However, he did not give up his dream of education – at the age of 31 he received a certificate, graduating from an evening school.

The desire to study at the university did not leave the man, and in 2017 he entered the Faculty of Philosophy and History of the University of Palermo. “I got up at seven in the morning to study. Completed tasks on an old typewriter. I rested during the day and worked again in the evening, ”says Paterno. According to him, the neighbors asked why he needed it at that age. “But they just don’t understand how important it is to make a dream come true,” the pensioner said.

The pandemic almost prevented the man from obtaining a diploma, his son suggested that he postpone exams and return to classes in the fall, but he refused and mastered distance learning. At the end of July Paterno received the coveted document. “It was one of the happiest days of my whole life. I just wish my wife could see me at this moment. But she died 14 years ago, ”the man said.

Now Paterno is considering the possibility of enrolling in a magistracy. According to him, “genetics is on his side” – the graduate’s mother lived to be 100 years old, so he expects that he has at least four years left.

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