Never too late: Thai nonagenarian graduates from university
Kimlan picked up her scroll from the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University on Wednesday. Source: Thai PBS

A 91-year-old Thai woman became a national inspiration when she completed her bachelor’s degree after more than 10 years of sheer hard work and dedication.

According to the BBC, nonagenarian Kimlan Jinakul picked up her scroll from the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University on Wednesday, fulfilling her decades-long ambition to obtain a degree.

The woman from the Lampang province in northern Thailand said she had always wanted to go to university ever since she was young, but did not have the opportunity to do so.

When she was a girl, she went to one of the best schools in her province and was regarded as a smart pupil.

For decades, she lived her dream vicariously through most of her children who went through university, but did not have the chance to do so herself.

Kimlan picked up her scroll from the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University on Wednesday. Source: Thai PBS

Her family had moved to Bangkok, where she later got married, sidelining her dream to study.

“I have always, though, wanted my children to be able to study. So I encouraged and supported them when they wanted to go to university,” she was quoted as saying.

The convocation ceremony on Wednesday was attended by most of her family, the BBC reported. Out of all her five children, four of them possess a masters degree, with one of them obtaining a PhD in the US.

The woman said she was 72 when she first enrolled at the university while one of her daughters was working at a hospital. However, the death of one of her daughters made her defer her studies for several years.

At the age of 85, she re-enrolled for a degree in Human Ecology, a course which she said had taught her how to live a happy and good life.

“After recovering from the loss and sadness, I pushed myself to finish this programme,” she was quoted as saying.

“I’m hoping my daughter’s soul would be pleased to see this.”

Throughout her uni life, Kimlan said she would wake up early in the mornings before giving alms to Buddhist monks and visiting a neighbourhood temple. She would then continue her day to study.

“It’s never too late. My mind is always awake and sharp for learning,” Kimlan said.

“This world never stops. There are always new problems for us to solve. If there were no new sciences, the world would stop prospering,” she said.

Kimlan, in responding to a question about her success, said it was due to a combination of determination and ambition.

“When I told myself to finish one chapter, I would try my best to do so. I underlined all the key points I needed to memorise. And that’s what helped me during my study reviews.

“I was glad when I passed and sad when I failed. So I re-took the exam until I passed,” she said.

On her future plans, Kimlan said it was unlikely she would get a job.

“I don’t think anybody would employ me if I were to look for a job,” she quipped.

“I will just continue to look after my grandchildren.”

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