Courage and determination are two strong elements to be a successful person in life.

93-year-old CI Sivasubramanian, a retired director of the Ministry of Commerce, possesses both the qualities that inspired him to return to a classroom at the ripe age of 87.

CI Sivasubramanian
Source: India Today

When we say age is just a number we usually refer to people like Sivasubramanian, who despite achieving a successful career returned to fulfill a dream that had eluded him for decades.

And on Monday, February 17, the 93-year-old became the oldest student at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) convocation.

CI Sivasubramanian during the convocation
Source: Indian Express

Sivasubramanian, who now holds a master's degree in public administration, was praised by HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank who called him a "90-year-old youngster".

Speaking about his pursuit of a degree at the ripe age, he said:

Family responsibilities kept me from pursuing my passion for studies, but at 87, finally, that opportunity knocked on my door. After finishing my school in 1940s, I wanted to go to college but that meant either shifting to Trichy or Chennai. Meanwhile, both my parents fell ill and my relatives advised me against going because I had to take care of them. So, I got a job and started working.
Pile of books
Source: Dev Discourse

Despite having to leave his education after finishing his 12th, Sivasubramanian rose through the ranks in his job and retired as a director from the ministry in 1986 at the age of 58.

Even though he climbed the ladders of success with ease, he was still bent on fulfilling his dream and figured out ways to go about it.

Indian Parliament
Source: Lets Intern

He believed not being a graduate became a hindrance to utilize his complete potential and explained he kept on trying until he succeed.

He said:

I was offered an opportunity to be part of a programme in the United Nations. But since I was not a graduate, I could not go. During my tenure at the ministry, I even enquired about the correspondence courses available at Delhi University but then I was transferred and could not pursue them.
Ministry of Commerce
Source: DPE

But even retirement did not provide him the opportunity to strike gold in education.

The man who once left his education because of his parents now had to make a similar sacrifice for his grandchildren and family.
Yet with a strong will, a way soon opened up for the 93-year-old. He explained:

My wife was rendered bedridden when I was 87. I used to be by her bedside all through the day and my daughters would also come. One day, her physiotherapist said that he would leave a little early that day as he had to go to IGNOU to collect his form to apply for a course. I asked him to find out whether I could also apply. He found that age is no bar at IGNOU and then I enrolled for the bachelors’ course in public administration even though I told my children, ‘I do not know whether I will be alive long enough to complete it’. After finishing my graduation, I enrolled for the masters degree.
IGNOU
Source: The Indian Wire

Fearing he might not live long enough to see himself become a graduate, Sivasubramanian ensured he completed his graduation in no time before enrolling for the master's programme.

In the last 6 years, he has been waking up at 5 AM every day and can usually be seen immersed in a pile of books around him.

Library
Source: Super Career Guide

Sivasubramanian's handwriting became a problem but his granddaughter offered to write his assignments and answer sheets.

He lost his wife in 2019 but not before she had held his master's degree in her own hands.
Remembering her, he said:

I had completed my degree but it was only after a year that I received it. In that period, my wife was in her last stages and I handed her the degree and told her, ‘Finally, your husband is a graduate’. She passed away two days later.

Asked about what he plans next, the oldest post-graduate said he initially planned to pursue an M.Phil but later changed his mind.

Upon being told that there are only a few seats for M.Phil and that he might take away a deserving candidate's seat, the 93-year-old backed out.