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72-Year-Old Man Finally Graduates College Accompanied By 99-Year-Old Mother

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Recently, a 72-year-old man, Sam Kaplan, became the first among his seven siblings to earn an undergraduate degree in Cinema and Media Arts. Kaplan shattered the notion that age should hinder the pursuit of one’s dreams.

To celebrate his achievement, Georgia Gwinnett College shared a video that captured the moment when Kaplan walked across the stage in his graduation cap and gown on May 11 to receive his well-deserved diploma. The joyous occasion was made even more special by the presence of Kaplan’s 99-year-old mother, who was also present at the event, cheering him on from the crowd.

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Sam Kaplan shares details on how his college education journey started

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Kaplan revealed that following when he graduated from high school in 1969, he never for once had the intention of pursuing a college education. Instead, the father of five ventured into different fields, taking on various roles to support himself and his family, which include managing a cleaning service, operating a telemarketing company, and even working as a taxi driver.

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However, Kaplan stated that he unexpectedly found himself at the crossroads of opportunity, which he quickly grabbed. “I was riding down 316 and heard on the radio that Georgia Gwinnett College was offering a degree that involved script writing,” he explained. “My car seemed to have developed automatic steering, and I pulled off on Collins Hill Road. Five minutes later, I was registering for the fall semester.”

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Sam Kaplan says learning at his age was quite challenging

Kaplan also shared that he faced a unique set of challenges on his educational journey, especially as an older student. He noted that his transition back to the classroom after a hiatus of over 50 years required a lot of adjustments on his part.

In order to gain maximally, the father of five kept an open mind and embraced the opportunity to learn alongside his younger colleagues while recognizing the value of diverse perspectives and the potential for mutual growth and understanding. “When you ask a student about what they want and plan on doing and find out what they want to do with their lives, I think that’s uncommon with a lot of kids – they don’t get that with people,” Kaplan admitted. “I think I have a good relationship with them. I got hugs from a lot of them on the last day of classes.”

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Also, Kate Balsley, an associate professor of film at Georgia Gwinnett College who had the privilege of teaching Kaplan during his academic journey, was filled with genuine excitement and admiration, and she expressed her joy and enthusiasm at the 72-year-old’s remarkable achievements. “Sam was always willing to share photos and stories about his interesting life and his family,” she explained. “We’re so proud to see him graduate, but we will miss him.”

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