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Recent Ben-gurion Graduate Not Everyday College ‘senior’

July 30, 1996
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An 83-year-old Israeli recently completed his bachelor’s degree in Jewish history, proving that no one is too old to be a student.

At first, octogenarian Ya’acov Vilan of Kibbutz Negba was a bit apprehensive about how his classmates at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev would treat him.

But he soon discovered that his studies yielded a learning experience beyond what is found in any book.

“I thought they would see me, as the saying goes in Hebrew, as `an old Zalman,'” Vilan said. “But I enjoyed their company. Each of them saw in me a bit of their own grandfathers.”

Vilan also found that he enjoyed perks as a result of his longevity.

“I never had to wait in the [line] for the printing machine,” he told Israel Radio. “The [students] would bring me materials, and get books from the library which were in lower places that were difficult for me to reach.”

His teachers also enjoyed his participation.

“One said to me that I am a living witness of things that happened,” he said.

Vilan already has his sights set on a master’s degree.

But he will have to first overcome some logistical problems.

“I would not be able to go three days a week,” he said. “I don’t drive anymore, and it’s an hour-and-a-half bus ride each way. But I was told that when [I register] I could possibly work out a program with the teachers to study more at home.”

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