An octogenarian in central Vietnam has earned a master of business administration degree after surmounting obstacles associated with aging, illness, and family.
Le Phuoc Thiet, 85, received his master’s degree on Sunday to the rapturous ovation resounding through a hall of over 500 people, including his fellow postgraduates, none of whom were older than him and many at the age of his grandchildren.
Vo Thanh Hai, president of the institution awarding the degree, private-run Duy Tan University in the central city of Da Nang, praised Thiet’s achievement as exemplary for efforts to acquire knowledge at an advanced age.
After leaving Vietnam for the U.S. in 1975, Thiet failed to continue pursuing an education since he had to grind away to earn money for his wife and seven children.
It was not until 1995, when the children were all married, that he attended California State University at 62 and obtained a graduate degree in economics seven years later.
In 2013, Thiet and his wife returned to their hometown in the central province of Quang Nam in order to facilitate the latter’s treatment of dementia, while the children decided to settle in the U.S.
Two years later, at the age of 82, he enrolled in a master’s degree program at Duy Tan University, citing the purpose of preventing the decrease of memory. His wife passed away shortly after his enrollment.
Thiet finished the MBA program with a remarkable result, after overcoming the pain from his wife’s death and frequent illness.
He diligently read books and took physical exercises to improve his memory and logical thinking and keep pace with classmates.
It was the industriousness that enabled Thiet, who is proficient in English, to far surpass other students and pass exams with flying colors, said Vo Thanh Hai, the Vietnamese university’s vice-president.
“He would invariably be the first person to get to the class, rain or shine. He even braved the stormy weather traveling over 30 kilometers on the bus to go to school, against dissuasion from his family.”