81-year-old graduates with Ph.D. in philosophy from University of South Florida

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Tampa, FL (WFTS) — Thousands will graduate from the University of South Florida this weekend. 81-year-old John Voelpel who graduated on Friday night is the oldest graduate this semester.

“Getting the Ph.D. feels wonderful. The cap and gown feel a bit warm,” laughed John Voelpel.

Voelpel earned a Ph.D. in philosophy. He took his first class at USF in 2002 for no credit. He stuck around nearly 15 years.

“I’ve learned a lot through the philosophy department because philosophy is really where science started,” said Voelpel.

He shared photos from his high school yearbook from nearly 60 years ago.

He graduated from college in 1959 form the University of Illinois. He earned a law degree from Wayne State University in 1972.

He sent a career practicing environmental law before attending the University of South Florida. Even though he graduated on Friday, he said he’s already enrolled in a class this summer.

“I’m a different person having come to this school,” said Voelpel.

His advice to graduates included finding a passion and never let it die. He also said never stop asking questions.

“We should never feel that we have reached that point in life where we no longer have the responsibility to ask questions and then pursue answers,” said Voelpel.

“Have fun, to all of us who are going out there into the world with a new degree so forth and so on,” he added.

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