67-year-old grandpa crosses off earning a college degree from his bucket list

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by Marcelino Benito / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 7:05 PM

HOUSTON --At University of Houston-Downtown you'll find lots of students.

"When I walked into class the first day I was very nervous," said Philip Karam.

But few students are like 67-year-old Philip.

"I sat up front," said Karam. "I always sat up front. I can't hear. I'm an old guy. Things like that happen."

Not only was Karam older, but he'd just survived a life threatening heart condition.

"You think back on your life when you go through that," he said.

So he made a bucket list, and went back to school.

"On Saturday I get to scratch college degree off," said Karam.

A war in Vietnam kept him from finishing college and walking across the stage. This weekend he gets that chance.

"My wife said she’d hit me over the head if I didn't walk," said Karam. "She said you worked too hard, too long."

For the last four years, Karam studied theatre and fine arts. Pictures on the walls of the O'Kane Theatre show all the plays he's been a part of.

"His age didn't set him apart," said Dr. Thomas Lyttle, director of the theatre program. "He didn't allow it to set him apart."

He's three times as old as the student actors he shared a stage with.

"I threw him across stage, which scared me cause I didn’t want to hurt him," said Max Weimmer, a UHD sophomore.

But not only has the 67-year-old grandpa kept up, he's shined.

"It felt great, kept me feeling young," said Karam.

His fellow students became good friends.

"I was invited to many, many parties," said Karam. "I didn’t go for a lot of reasons. I'm the typical old guy. Come 8 or 9 o'clock I'm ready to call it a night."

But this Saturday, he will celebrate and keep moving down the bucket list.

"Learning to play the piano is next," he said.

The University of Houston-Downtown Spring 2014 Commencement exercises will be held at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, May 10, 2014. The processional will begin at 9:15 a.m. and the ceremony at 10 a.m.

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