UBC grad takes 54 years to complete his degree

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UBC grad takes 54 years to complete his degree

More than five decades after he began his studies, Arthur Ross finally walked across the stage at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on Thursday to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree.

Mr Ross, 71, said he is likely the “slowest student” at the Vancouver university.

He also may be the slowest in the world. It took him precisely 54 years to finish his degree – two years longer than the Guinness World Record holder, Robert FP Cronin, who began his biology degree at Princeton University in 1948 and graduated in 2000.

But Mr Ross said he is in no rush to claim his world record title. The real reward, he said, was the knowledge he was able to gain through his classes.

“I just wanted to learn because I was curious,” Mr Ross told the BBC this week. That desire for learning, he said, is what inspired him to finish his degree after all these years.

When Mr Ross first enrolled at UBC in 1969, the US had just landed the first man on the moon and The Beatles were about to release their seminal album Abbey Road.

He was fresh out of high school back then, he said, and not “particularly focused on anything”. Mr Ross got involved with the theatre club on campus, where he discovered a passion for acting.

After only two years at UBC, Mr Ross decided to switch course and move to Montreal, where he began studying at the National Theatre School.

He did complete his studies there, receiving a certificate of accomplishment. But Mr Ross said he soon realised that he did not want acting to become his career.

“I decided, ‘well, maybe I should go to law school and become a lawyer,’ sort of that last resort for everybody who can’t quite figure out what they want to do,” he said.