Man graduates with college degree after 52 years of setbacks
BANGOR, ME. (WABI/CNN Newsource) - Saturday's University of Maine commencement was a journey 52 years in the making for one student.
One University of Maine graduate this year began his collegiate journey well before the rest of the class of 2023 was born. John Cyrus is 70 years old and has earned an undergraduate degree in microbiology.
"I'm so excited for tomorrow," said Cyrus said on Friday. "I'm going to actually get that diploma! What's kind of cool, too, is my oldest granddaughter graduates from Lawrence this year."
"I think it was his love for science that brought him here at this age," a classmate commented.
"I love being a problem solver and doing things like that," Cyrus confirmed.
Cyrus's journey to get here has seen plenty of starts and stops. He was set to attend Rutgers University in 1971, but a serious car crash left him unable to attend. He fractured his atlas bone and was very lucky to survive.
When he recovered, he was drafted into the Vietnam War and served as an Air Force lab tech. By 1976, he was just nine credits away from graduating, but then another accident set him back.
"I had a lab accident. I came down with mono and had to drop out. Well, I never got around to getting back," explained Cyrus.
After a career spent in labs and at the Jay Paper Mill, Cyrus retired in 2012, and needed something to do.
"I got to thinking, I'd like to go back. I've got time now, why don't I go back to school? Being back in the lab, I mean, the lab has always been my first love," said Cyrus.
He has certainly made an impression on his younger classmates.
"John is an interesting guy. He's a very nice guy. He just keeps on going. He's really driven, he love's what he's doing. And it really shows just in how he acts and how he's enthusiastic about what he's doing in our lab," said graduate student Nicholas Leclerc.
Cyrus's academic journey isn't stopping here. He plans on continuing to graduate school and believes he will get his PHD by the time he is 75-years-old.
"Find the time, make the time. Work and stuff is always there, just to be able to go out and enjoy life, enjoy the world around you, experience some of the beauty. Go out there and live," said Cyrus when asked what lesson's he learned throughout this whole experience.
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