“never too late to study” – Granny completes university degree at 91

Kimlan Jinakul
Kimlan was one of thousands of graduates this year

A 91-year-old woman from Thailand who says it’s “never too late to study” has completed her bachelor’s degree after more than 10 years of work. She spoke to Watchiranont Thongtep of the BBC’s Thai service.

Kimlan Jinakul had always wanted to go to university but as a young girl simply did not have the opportunity.

But almost a lifetime later and after seeing most of her own children through university, she decided to enrol and on Wednesday finally picked up her degree.

Kimlan originally comes from the Lampang province in the north of Thailand. She was a smart pupil and went to one of the best schools in her province.

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But moving on to university was not an option at the time, and after her family moved to Bangkok she got married and had to abandon her dream to study further.

“I have always, though, wanted my children to be able to study. So I encouraged and supported them when they wanted to to go to university.”

Four of her five children got a masters degree and one even went on to receive a PhD in the US.

And it was her kids’ academic experience that eventually led her to get enrolled herself.

A good and happy life

When one of her daughters – who was already working at a hospital – took a course at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Kimlan decided to get on board as well.

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She was 72 when she first enrolled, but tragically, the daughter she was studying with died. Kimlan dropped out of the course for a few years.

When she was 85, she went back for a second shot and enrolled for a degree in Human Ecology – a programme that she said would teach her how to live a good and happy life.

“After recovering from the loss and sadness, I pushed myself to finish this programme. I’m hoping my daughter’s soul would be pleased to see this,” she told the BBC.

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