72-year-old man graduates from college as 99-year-old mom proudly looks on

He had a great explanation for why he chose to go back.

He had a great explanation for why he chose to go back.

It’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

That’s an ethos that has been going around forever and it’s because it holds a matter of truth in it.


Most who have great access to education, they graduate college around their early or mid-twenties. But for some, it can go as far beyond their 30s.

Sam Kaplan proudly received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Gwinnett College.

The 72-year-old Kaplan made history in his family as the first of his seven siblings to earn a bachelor’s degree. He received his diploma in Cinema and Media Arts.


To make the event more heartwarming, his biggest fan also made it to the momentous occasion. Kaplan’s 99-year-old mother attended the graduation ceremony with a big smile on her face.

“She’s very excited,” Kaplan said, as quoted by TODAY. “She’s excited, happy and proud.”

Kaplan’s college journey began with a radio announcement and “auto-pilot.”

Before he got the chance to earn his degree, Kaplan already had a treasure trove of experiences both personally and career-wise.


After graduating from high school in 1969, the last time his mother saw him in a scholastic setting, he took on various professions.

He ran a cleaning service, managed a telemarketing company, worked in customer service for an electronic wholesale distribution business, and drove a taxi.


While driving one day, Kaplan heard on the radio that a college was offering a degree in scriptwriting.

Then he found himself going on “auto-pilot” and drove to Georgia Gwinnett College. Before he knew it, he was already signing up for the fall semester.


Going back to college, even with extensive life experience, isn’t as easy as it looks. Kaplan shared that he had to undergo a lot of adjustments.

Luckily, he has his teachers and fellow students help him out.

Just like any student, on top of learning how to study all over again, the father of five had struggles fitting in. To make connections, he set a daily goal of connecting with his classmates by asking them about their educational goals and aspirations in life.


This genuine interest in his peers not only helped him build strong relationships but also created a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

Kaplan’s professors, like associate film professor Kate Balsley, admired his dedication and passion.

Balsley expressed her excitement for Kaplan’s academic achievements, highlighting his willingness to share stories from his fascinating life and family. And while she’s proud of him, she’s also sad to see him go.


“Sam was always willing to share photos and stories about his interesting life and his family. We’re so proud to see him graduate, but we will miss him,” Balsley said, as quoted by TODAY.

His story is sure to inspire a lot of people.

In a video an attendee of the ceremony shared, the auditorium exploded in thunderous applause and roars of cheers when Kaplan received his diploma.


His story just goes to show that it’s never too late to pursue what we love doing. And while most people take the conventional way, the one that you forge for yourself isn’t wrong either way.

And in the end, as long as you persevere, you will always find yourself where you should be.

Watch how the crowd reacts when a 72-year-old man becomes the first in his family to earn a degree.

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