The nation’s oldest graduate student, Chao Mu-he (趙慕鶴), 98, was awarded a master’s degree in philosophy yesterday.
He also received a special award at the graduation ceremony in recognition of his diligence.
Born on July 4, 1912, Chao, who has mastered the “bird-worm” style of calligraphy, used this as the basis for his research for his degree from Nanhua University’s Graduate Institute of Philosophy in Chiayi County.
Chao said he learned the bird-worm script as a child in China.
“It is a difficult form of calligraphy because each stroke in the script has to be shaped like a bird or worm,” he said.
As he had spent several decades learning the style, which is now almost obsolete, he knew it would be the best subject for his thesis, Chao said.
Chao, a graduate of a teachers’ college in China’s Shandong Province, moved to Taiwan in 1951. He taught at Kaohsiung Girls’ Normal College, which later became National Kaohsiung Normal University. He was the university’s director of general affairs before he retired in 1978.
Asked why he decided to pursue a graduate degree so late in life, Chao said he wanted to encourage one of his friend’s sons, who was reluctant to go back to school. Chao said he invited the young man to study with him in graduate school.
As Chao was living in Kaohsiung, he had to commute to Chiayi by bus to attend classes, but he was proud to say that in his two years of study, he had never missed a class.
Physically, Chao appears to be in good shape and moves around unassisted. Asked about the secret to his health, he said there was none, but added that he never quarrels with anyone.
Chen Teh-ho (陳德和), Chao’s thesis adviser, described his student as diligent with a sense of humor.
Chen said he was impressed by Chao’s desire to acquire knowledge.
Chao is the best example of the saying a person is “never too old to learn,” Chen said.
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