An old woman in Canada was recently awarded her second master’s degree at the age of 87. The woman, identified as Varatha Shanmuganathan, became the oldest person to graduate with a master’s degree from York University. A video of her getting honoured at the Ontario Legislature has surfaced on social media and is being widely shared due to its inspiration.
Taking to Instagram, Vijay Thanigasalam, a member of the Provincial Parliament, posted the video of his tribute to the scholar. “It was my privilege to honour Mrs. Varatha Shanmuganathan at the Ontario Legislature, as the oldest person to graduate with a master’s degree from York University and one of the oldest women to earn a graduate degree in all of Canada,” Mr Thanigasalam wrote in the caption of the post.
Watch the video below:
Since being posted, the video has garnered more than one million views and over 148,000 likes. Internet users were simply impressed by the 87-year-old. “To the ones who are self-doubting and think that it’s late in life to start anything, this story comes with so much inspiration! 87 and still rocking!” wrote one user. “Absolute inspiration…You are the best example of lifelong learning,” said another.
In the clip, the 87-year-old is seen receiving a standing ovation from members of the Ontario Legislature and interacting and getting pictures clicked with several Canadian ministers, including the Minister of Education. The video also mentions that Ms Shanmuganathan began her academic journey at the University of Madras in India, completed her undergraduate degree and has been moving onwards and upwards since then.
“Varatha amma’s love for teaching and learning has allowed her the opportunity to live and teach in four different continents throughout her life,” Mr Thanigasalam wrote in the caption.
Mr Thanigasalam also went on to say that Ms Shanmuganathan got her first master’s degree in her mid-50s from the University of London. She later moved to Canada in 2004. In 2019, Ms Shanmuganathan then learned that York University provided a tuition waiver incentive for seniors, following which her daughters encouraged her to apply for the master’s program.
Mr Thanigasalam also stated that the most inspiring thing about Ms Shanmuganathan’s journey is that she completed her second master’s degree during the COVID-19 pandemic. “As she continues to be a fruitful presence in the lives of many, at the age of 87, she has never given up on the power of education. She is an inspiration to the younger generation beginning their journey or our seniors looking for the next adventure. She teaches us all that learning is a lifelong commitment,” he wrote.
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