By Anna Wichmann
Felipe Espinosa Tecuapetla, an 84-year-old former soldier and shopkeeper from Puebla, Mexico, has become a graduate in process engineering and industrial management.
His success has proved that, despite your age, it is never too late to achieve your dreams and change your life.
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“I feel very happy to have finished my studies…It’s never too late to carry on with life. Dreams come true,” the university graduate stated to Mexican newspaper Milenio.
Tecuapetla, who can still be seen selling fruit and vegetables at local markets in Puebla, a city located in central Mexico that is known for its architecture and distinct cuisine, had always dreamed of earning his degree.
Yet it was his own son, who himself is an engineer, who pushed Tecuapetla to go for his degree.
Speaking to the Mexican newspaper El Universal, Tecuapetla stated that he wanted to keep improving and not remain stagnant just because he was older.
“You only live once,” he said. This sentiment became particularly clear after his beloved wife passed away.
84-year-old university graduate faced struggles to receive engineering degree
Although determined to study, the widowed father of five faced many struggles on his journey to completing his engineering degree.
Tecuapetla began studying at the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP), in San Jose Chiapa, which is the largest and oldest university in the state, when he was 79.
While he passed the entrance exam with ease, Tecuapetla’s daily life as a student proved difficult. He woke up each morning at 4:30 AM to catch the bus to the university’s campus, which was two hours away from his home.
Once in class, Tecuapetla soon realized he would have to get a computer, a device he had never really used before.
Persistent that he would let nothing get in his way, the engineering student got his hands on a computer, taught himself how to use it, and became a whizz.
His experience with the computer was particularly helpful when his classes had to be moved online during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nothing will stop me”
Although learning how to use the computer was difficult at first, Tecuapetla didn’t let it get him down, and remained confident that he would eventually get the hang of it.
“I see well, I hear well, I reason well. These are my great assets,” Tecuapetla stated to El Universal. “I don’t have a hollow head.”
The octogenarian even made friends with his younger classmates, who helped him fight the loneliness that plagued the widower after the death of his wife.
“I’m no longer alone. People say hello to me everywhere. To be a graduate of BUAP is a great source of pride,” Tecuapetla expressed.
While receiving his first degree is a great accomplishment, Tecuapetla is not satisfied. He wants to keep studying and is even considering going for a master’s degree.
“Nothing will stop me,” the 84-year-old graduate said.