A 71-year-old retiree just earned his bachelor's degree after enrolling in university in 1969

side by side of Vancouver's Arthur Ross
Arthur Ross just completed his degree at the University of British Columbia after leaving the school in the 1970s.University of British Columbia
  • Arthur Ross, 71, is a retired attorney who graduated with a bachelor's degree after first enrolling in university in 1969.

  • It took Ross 54 years to complete his degree after his 35-year-long law career, reports say.

  • Ross joked he's the "slowest" graduate, but he's not the first to walk across the stage decades after beginning.

A Vancouver man graduated from the University of British Columbia with his Bachelor of Arts degree on Thursday, after leaving the school in the 1970s.

Arthur Ross, 71, is a retired lawyer who first enrolled in university as a young man in 1969. He retired in 2016 after a decades-long career, and eventually decided to return to school and finish the degree he started so long ago, the Vancouver Sun reported.

"I always thought maybe at some point, I would go back and try to finish off that degree, just as something to do," he told the Vancouver Sun. "And it was stimulating, it sharpened my brain."

Ross joked he was the "slowest" graduate after finishing took him nearly 54 years. According to the Washington Post, he began pursuing an English degree before switching to acting. He left university for the first time two years after enrolling to attend theater school in Montreal.

Three years later, he grew tired of acting and turned to law school, which he only needed three years in undergraduate studies to attend, per the  Washington Post. Then, he began a long career as a lawyer before an opera in 2016 sparked his interest in returning to school.

According to the BBC, a German opera inspired Ross to learn more about history and discuss with others. So, in January 2017, he enrolled in the University of British Columbia once more to complete a history degree.

"It's a waste not to take the opportunity to study something, anything, that is of interest to you," Ross told BBC. "Here, the opportunity has presented itself to me, and I have enjoyed it."

His journey was slowed in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ross told multiple outlets that his fellow students at the beginning of their professional journeys are the real heroes.

"They certainly lost something at that point, but a part of their character emerged that said 'OK, we'll just have to do this in a different way,'" Ross said, per BBC. "I have tremendous admiration for them finishing."

Now, with his history degree, Ross will go back to the life of a retiree six years after embarking on the journey to complete his degree.

He's not the only spring graduate that began their degree in another decade. On May 14, a 101-year-old World War II veteran walked across the stage 80 years after he was supposed to attend his college graduation.

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