Graduating UBC 2023: Graduation ‘slowest’ to receive a degree in history

Among thousands of students graduating from the University of British Columbia this week, Arthur Ross is unique.

At 71, Ross is not the oldest in his current graduating class – that distinction belongs to 78-year-old linguistics student Yee Siong Pang – but he joked that he was the slowest.

Ross first enrolled at UBC in 1969, before his love of theater drew him in and a 35-year law career alienated him. He returned to work part-time in 2017 and he says that all the credits he earned in the 60s and 70s count toward his bachelor’s degree in history.

However, when he spoke to CTV News via Zoom on Tuesday, it wasn’t what set him apart from the classmates he wanted to talk about. That’s what makes them similar.

Ross said they all completed part of their assignments during the COVID-19 pandemic, missing face-to-face discussions that are so important to the college experience and cannot be replicated across the board. video call, Ross said.

As a part-time student returning to school after retirement, he has the luxury of being able to reduce his involvement, if he wants, in the transition to online learning.

He said he wanted to use his time in the limelight this week to share his appreciation for what his classmates who continue to study full-time in the time of the pandemic – passed.

“I think they should be commended for sticking with it,” he said, recalling what it was like to sit back in class for the first time in the fall of 2021.

“The professor of that particular class started talking and became extremely emotional being able to give a presentation, teaching in front of the people in that room.”

Ross is full of praise for his professors, classmates, and the university itself.

“The reality is that UBC is open for seniors to come back and take courses,” he said. “And so are the students. There’s no reason when I’m there that I feel, ‘Oh, these young people don’t really want me in the room.’ I often find that we had very interesting conversations and I brought something to the conversation and they brought it back to me.”

However, there are some notable ways in which his UBC experience is markedly different from that of his peers.

About six weeks after his first history course in the spring semester of 2017, he said he realized he had an unusual connection with one of his classmates.

As it turned out, the young woman was the daughter of the first newspaper student he accepted as a lawyer.

“She wasn’t even born when her mother was my student,” he said with a laugh.

The subject of that course – European history in the first half of the 20th century – was what initially prompted Ross to return to school.

He was fascinated by the nonsense of World War I, and his curiosity was piqued by a trip to Europe in the early summer of 2016 when he was retiring.

“How do people keep doing this?” Ross said, explaining the war question he hopes to answer in his research.

“You can’t imagine that people didn’t refuse to fight, didn’t refuse to send their children to fight. Yet out of millions, they sent them off. Everyone was gone.”

Ross says he got a better understanding of that question and its answers early in his studies, but curiosity kept him coming back for more courses on European and Canadian history.

After stepping across the stage at Thursday’s graduation, he plans to pause his studies, but he doesn’t rule out taking additional history courses in the future.

“I wouldn’t do it right away,” he said. “But I can do it because I’m still curious about these things.”

He said it was “unfortunate” that his college story wasn’t more popular, and he encouraged people his age to take courses and pursue knowledge. knowledge, while at the same time being open to changing their minds about what they thought they knew.

“I was a different person than I was at the time, in 2017. I am a different person thanks to the courses I took. I have a completely different perspective on Canadian history than I did when I took the course. participate in this entire program.”


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