78-year-old man graduates from college

by Carine M. Asutilla, ABS-CBN Central Visayas

Posted at Mar 26 2011 11:59 AM | Updated as of Mar 27 2011 04:49 PM

CEBU, Philippines - “It’s never too late.” This is Miguel Lajos’s frequent answer when asked about going to college.

This March, Lajos, now 78 years old, will be graduating with a degree in AB Political Science from the University of the Visayas-Dalaguete campus in Cebu.

And it's not the end yet for Lajos's education. In fact, he plans to go to law school in June.

Lajos believes that age cannot be a hindrance in pursuing his dream. He said that ever since he was young, he had dreamt of becoming a lawyer.

Miguel Lajos plans to enrol in law school this June.

“But I fell in love with my first wife. So I ran away with her after high school,” Lajos explained. He knew that his parents could not afford to send him to college so he decided to get married instead.

“I had it all planned. I said to myself, I will get married. I will have a dozen children. I will raise them and send them to school so later on, they will spend for my tuition fees,” Lajos said.

Lajos worked as a plumber after he learned the skill in a vocational class when he was in first year college.

He had 13 children with his first wife. When his first wife died, he got married again and had another 5 children.

Lajos raised all 18 of his children. Some of them are now professional teachers and architects. These children are now paying for Lajos’s school fees and tuition. They also give him his weekly allowance.

“When my second wife died, I felt that it was time for me to do something for myself, and all I can think of was pursuing my dream to become a lawyer,” he said.

Lajos said that he did not have any doubts about what he wanted to do. Aside from achieving his dreams, he thought that going to school will help him stay away from Alzheimer’s disease.

“I still have good memory. I can easily remember our professors’ discussions,” said Lajos. He said that he likes participating in class debates. He also loves studying criminal law.

Lajos’s professor can attest that even if Lajos is the oldest in class, he can keep up with his younger classmates. Prof. Ricardo Dinawanao, Lajos’s adviser in Political Science, said that Lajos consistently participates in class.

“He is a good example for everyone that education is for everybody. No age, gender, or color [can be a hindrance],” said Dinawanao.

Facing challenges

Lajos also shared that the only struggle he has in college is having the required books and references he needs to study. He said the books are too expensive so he has to borrow from friends and photocopy the other books. But this did not weaken his resolve to continue with his studies.

“If there is something you really want in life, you have to fill your heart with passion and determination, and you have to always be ready to face the challenges,” he said. Lajos studies every night after dinner. He wakes up at 3 a.m. to study again until 5 a.m. before going for a jog.

Lajos will be graduating this March 30, but he cannot get his diploma yet because he has to enrol in Physical Education (PE) this summer.

He is currently asking the school for a humanitarian consideration that he be allowed to march with his graduating batch. Lajos said he did not enrol in PE because he thought he did not need it to become a lawyer. He also said that at his age, it’s hard for him to play sports.

But Lajos is positive that by June, he will be able to enrol in law school. His children are all willing to support him financially until he takes his bar exam. Lajos will be spending another 4 years in law school.

“I will be 82 years old by the time I finish proper law. I will take the bar exam and I will pass it. I’m sure I will still be a strong man and I will practice law. It’s never too late for me. God will help me realize my dreams,” he said.