Ontario Legislature honours octogenarian who earned master's degree at 87 years. Watch

Dec 08, 2022 12:42 PM IST

The viral video that captures the Ontario Legislature honouring an octogenarian who earned a master's degree at 87 years was posted on Instagram.

It is often said that education has no age limit, and this woman, who completed her master's degree from a Canadian University at 87, aptly proves it. You may find it hard to believe, but this is her second master's degree. She completed her first master's degree in her mid-50s from the University of London. She is such an inspiration to all of us, isn't she? And because of her lifelong commitment to education, she was recently honoured by the Members of the Provincial Parliament at the Ontario Legislature. Now, a video of her getting honoured at the Ontario Legislature has surfaced online and is being widely circulated on social media due to its inspiring quotient.

Vijay Thanigasalam (left) with Varatha Shanmuganathan (right). (Instagram/@vijaythanigasalam)
Vijay Thanigasalam (left) with Varatha Shanmuganathan (right). (Instagram/@vijaythanigasalam)

The now-viral video was posted on Instagram by Vijay Thanigasalam. According to his Insta bio, he is a Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Scarborough-Rouge Park and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Infrastructure. "It was my privilege to honour Mrs. Varatha Shanmuganathan at the Ontario Legislature, as the oldest person to graduate with a master's degree from York University and one of the oldest women to earn a graduate degree in all of Canada," wrote Thanigasalam while sharing the video. In the video, she can be seen receiving a standing ovation from members of the Ontario Legislature, interacting and getting clicked with several Ministers, including the Minister of Education. The video also mentions that she began her academic journey at the University of Madras in India, completed her undergraduate degree, and has been moving onwards and upwards since then.

Thanigasalam also shared that Varatha amma taught and lived on four different continents throughout her life. "She completed her first master's degree when she was in her mid-50s at the University of London's Birkbeck College in the United Kingdom. She later moved to Canada in 2004. In 2019, Varatha amma learned that York University provided a tuition waiver incentive for seniors and was encouraged by her daughter to apply for the master's program," he added.

And the most inspiring thing about Varatha amma's journey is that she completed her second master's degree during the COVID-19 pandemic. "As she continues to be a fruitful presence in the lives of many, at the age of 87, she has never given up on the power of education. She is an inspiration to the younger generation beginning their journey or our seniors looking for the next adventure. She teaches us all that learning is a lifelong commitment," Thanigasalam continued.

"I am eager to see where Varatha amma's next venture takes her and wish her all the very best in everything she does," he concluded his Instagram post.

Watch the video below:

Since being posted six days ago, the video has gathered more than 1.4 million views and several likes and comments.

"To the ones who are self doubting and think that it's late in life to start anything, this story comes with so much inspiration! 87 and still rocking!" shared an individual. "Power of education," wrote another. "Absolute inspiration...You are the best example of lifelong learning," commented a third. "Great women and she is the inspiration for all of us," expressed a fourth. The comments section is replete with heart and fire emoticons.


    Arfa Javaid is a journalist working with the Hindustan Times' Delhi team. She covers trending topics, human interest stories, and viral content online.

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