88-year-old man graduates college after dropping out 60 years ago

NEW YORK — An 88-year-old man is part of the St. John’s University graduating class 60 years after he dropped out two classes shy of finishing a degree.

Pat Branley returned to campus this year to finish those classes and turn his tassel, Currents News reported.

“The void has been filled. I always felt that incompletion,” he told Currents News. “I made the withdrawal physically, but I never made it in my heart or intellectually."

He was working as a firefighter after serving four years in the Navy when he started at St. John’s University in Brooklyn. However, he got too busy, starting a family and rising through the ranks, eventually becoming a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, that he stopped taking classes.

He re-enrolled at St. John's University campus on Staten Island earlier this year and completed his degree May 31. He participated in a virtual graduation ceremony because of social distancing rules.

“It doesn’t bother me in the least bit, I’m way way past that,” Branley told Currents News. “At my age, sitting alone, graduating from college, there are a lot of people sitting alone in a funeral parlor, so I have no complaints.”

Branley remembered the advice he gave his four children, three lawyers and a teacher:

“Don’t go to college to prepare for a job. Go do that you can enjoy your time off,” Branley told Currents News.