”World’s Slowest Student” graduates after 54 years

Arthur Ross, a 71-year-old retiree finally completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia on Thursday

Parents make sure kids get the best education to get a good job, find an easier path to success, and lead a better life. Society expects a man to be educated enough to earn properly for his wife and kids, and a woman to be educated and confident to build a better future for themselves and their families. But, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds, as some people’s brain works slower than an average person’s. Meanwhile, some just chose a different path and delay their plans for graduating. In a similar light, Arthur Ross, a 71-year-old retiree finally completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia (UBC) on Thursday.

He enrolled at the college more than five decades ago, in 1969.

“The headline on your story should be ‘UBC finally graduates its slowest student,'” the now 71-year-old retiree told UBC with an easy laugh.

In an interview with BBC, Mr. Ross said, “I just wanted to learn because I was curious.” He further stated that the desire for learning is what inspired him to finish his degree after all these years.

According to a report in UBC, Mr. Ross’s initial plan was to get a degree in English, but by his second year, his passion for theatre took him to a different career path. He followed his goal and spent as much time as possible in the theatre department, doing shows and taking courses to pursue in hopes of becoming an actor.

“I was besotted with theatre at the time. It was alive then, with a sense of vitality and newness. It seemed just electric to me,” Ross remembers. He would even cross paths with renowned Canadian actors such as Nicola Cavendish, Larry Lillo, Brent Carver, and Ruth Nichol, in the department, which inspired him even more to pursue theatre.

After this, Ross left for the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal to complete a three-year program, while leaving his graduation incomplete. However, he later realized that the practical life of an actor is more painful than what seems from the outside.

“I liked it too much. It wasn’t going to be healthy for me. I knew I was a good actor but I always thought you had to be great” the 71-year-old said.

So, he did what any aspiring actor who recognizes they may be outclassed would do in 1975. Ross came back to UBC, to complete three years of academic work, and then went to a law school in Toronto. There, he graduated and spent 35 years as a civil litigator in Metro Vancouver before retiring in 2016.

In November 2016, he called UBC, got a new student number, and by January 2017 he was a part-time student focusing on history, with a particular interest in the First World War.

“I simply could not grasp why so many people would be prepared to participate in this butchery,” he explains. “However, the great revelation of pursuing a history degree was not in answering that initial question, but in looking at the sordid nature of Canadian history.”

“I’m appreciative of the students accepting that old guy tuning in from outer space,” he told UBC.

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