A Latino man survived World War II, graduated in college as a Top Honor in his class at the age of 96, and now the global pandemic. He is now Italy's oldest university graduate.

Latino man
(Photo : Reutersconnect)

There is still much to celebrate despite the global pandemic. There are stories of success that will inspire millions of people around the world. One of them is the story of a 96-year-old Latino man from Italy who is the country's oldest university graduate. 

Recently, a 96-year-old Latino man received his diploma and the traditional laurel wreath awarded to Italian students when they graduate. His family, teachers, and fellow students applauded him for being an inspiration to other students.  

Giuseppe Paterno has faced different challenges in his life. His life is full of sad memories because of poverty, war, and now the global pandemic. However, being 96 amid the present situation did not stop him from achieving his goal in life; to have a college degree. 

Paterno said, "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 shared that he grew up loving books, but he never had the chance to study because of poverty. 

According to a published article in ABC News, he was already in his 90s when he entered the University of Palermo to get a degree in History and Philosophy. In another interview with him from separate news outlets, he explained that he decided to enroll in 2017 because "It's now or never."

During the interview, he also admitted that it is too late for him to enroll and get a three-year degree, but he said to himself that he would try it if he could do it. Finally, after years of perseverance and determination despite his age, he graduated first in his class with top honors on Wednesday. 

Giuseppe Paterno grew up from a low-income family in Sicily before the Great Depression. As a child, he only received primary schooling. During World War II, he joined the Navy before he decided to work in the railways. He got married and raised his two children. 

His desire to study has always been part of his plan. Paterno went into high school after World War II even though work and family were priorities. He graduated at the age of 31 in high school in the goal to further his knowledge. 

He said, "Knowledge is like a suitcase that I carry with me, it is a treasure," He also shared that when he went to college to pursue his dream, he used an old typewriter that his mother gave to him in 1984. He also chooses to read printed boos rather than doing research using Google. 

Francesca Rizzuto, his sociology professor, told him that he is an example for younger students after he passed his final oral examination in June. Meanwhile, Paterno also shared that he felt uneasy when online or video classes replaced classroom teaching. 

However, he said that the global pandemic and the transition from traditional classroom classes to video call classes did not stop him from pursuing his dream in life.  

This is not the first inspiring story we've heard amid the global pandemic. It can be remembered that a Texas couple was able to beat cancer and COVID-19, according to a published article by Latin Post. Stories like these are essential to uplift people around us who seem to lose hope in the middle of depression and anxiety brought by COVID-19.

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