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Lifelong Learning Role Model, an Octogenarian PhD Student Shared His Great Joy in the Commencement Ceremony

Lifelong Learning Role Model, an Octogenarian PhD Student Shared His Great Joy in the Commencement Ceremony
Lifelong Learning Role Model, an Octogenarian PhD Student Shared His Great Joy in the Commencement Ceremony

With a touch of sadness written on their faces, students bid farewell to their classmates and instructors, in the ceremony that marks the day of parting from their university. After three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, National Chung Cheng University (CCU) resumed commencement for the 111th academic year on June 10, 2023, to give more than 3,000 graduates a good send-off, and wish them a successful life in the future. Among the graduates, Chun-Shiung Lu (陸春雄), an 80-year-old doctoral student from the CCU Department of Chinese Literature, is a role model for senior learners with his unflagging pursuit of knowledge and the spirit of lifelong learning. 

Chun-Shiung Lu passed the PhD entrance examination to study for his PhD at the Department of Chinese Literature in 2019. He then completed the study and was successfully awarded with a PhD qualification from CCU this year, in 2023. Looking back on his doctoral study, he revealed that those 140,000 Chinese characters which helped deliver the doctoral dissertation were bit by bit keyed in by himself. In this new era of information technology, Lu realized he needed to enhance his computer and software skills to keep up with his younger peers in these technologically advanced times. All that was not easy for him but he had managed to cope with well, especially after he learned how to operate the LINE app, he had used it quite often to make contact with his advisor and classmates for his research or course-related issues. 

"He is the oldest PhD student in the Department of Chinese Literature since its inception." According to Chia-Ming Chen, the professor and the chair of CCU Department of Chinese Literature, though Chun-Shiung Lu is the oldest student he has ever advised, Lu was very driven and focused in study and Professor Chen really admires the student's perseverance attitude in learning. For example, to meet the requirement of publishing two journal articles as one of the PhD graduation thresholds, Lu was always positive even if he had been rejected by different journals many times in the past, he just kept on writing ten articles until two of which had finally got through. And this has made Professor Chen consider himself inferior to Lu in terms of his passion for research.

Prof. Chen also pointed out that the founding spirit of the CCU Department of Chinese Literature is based on the university motto "to innovate with earnestness, be virtuous with altruism", Chun-Shiung Lu with his remarkable hard work has truly demonstrated the meaning of that spirit. As the most senior student in the university, Lu has never been less driven in study than any young students. 

According to CCU, there were a total of 3,149 students about to graduate this year, including 1,571 undergraduate students, 1,141 students from Master's and PhD programs, and 437 students from the In-service Master programs. This time, at the commencement, Yi-Ying Lin (林依瑩), the outstanding alumnus of the CCU Department of Social Welfare, and Ching-Sung Lee (李慶松), the outstanding alumnus of the Department of Law, were also invited to give talks to bless and motivate those graduates.

“The Elders can do anything, as long as they believe in themselves,” said Professor Yi-Ying Lin at the ceremony. Now serving as the adjunct associate professor at Feng Chia University, in 2006, she helped organize a trip for the elders in their 80s (in average) to fulfill their dream of riding motorcycle around Taiwan in 13 consecutive days, supervised by the Hongdao Foundation. That event was a great success and the whole trip was further filmed into a documentary "Go Grandriders" which was broadcast both nationally and internationally. As a master graduate from the CCU Department of Social Welfare, Lin could have pursued a higher social status, instead, Lin chose to be with people in need and dedicated to a career on personal caregiving. In her talk, she encouraged young people to stick to their own dreams, and never give up. And as a CCU alumnus, she will always stand by other CCU students and be willing to help out when they are chasing their dreams.

"精、鋼、不、作、鉤," are the five Chinese characters inscribed by Ching-sung Lee, the chairman of Taichung Bar Association and the previous master graduate from CCU, as a gift to this year's graduates in the ceremony. Chairman Lee expected students to refine their skills and be the pillars of society, as the character “精” has implied; to have the iron will in their life as “鋼”; not to be afraid of being a failure as “不”; to be professionals and shine with their expertise as “作”; and the last, to take roots in definite fields they have been dedicated to carve out and perfect their future career as “鉤”. By sharing his own experiences with the students, Lee urged students to always be brave to overcome the fear of failure and setbacks, to go for their genuine pursuits.

“Life has its ups and downs,” said CCU president Zhang-Hua Fong. On the stage of commencement, President Fong disclosed that in the last three years, although CCU has suffered from difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university still managed to retain its strength and invested much capital to upgrade the cyber network and relevant devices cost nearly NT$60 million for the research and educational purposes. After, President Fong concluded that life is two sides of the same coin, it can foster resilience during times of adversity. He wanted to use this saying to inspire students to keep on learning positively in adversity, and be grateful for the blessings we have in times of prosperity. At the end of his speech, he wished all the graduates a successful future and a happy commencement.

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