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UBC’s youngest, oldest and ‘slowest’ students reflect ahead of graduation

Graduation will occur for these students on May 25, 26, and 30, respectively

UBC is making campus history with a wide variety of graduates this year – including two of their youngest and oldest students to cross the stage this spring.

Arthur Ross, one of the hundreds of students set to graduate in May, will be celebrating a 54-year accomplishment after taking a few detours along the way.

“The headline on your story should be ‘UBC finally graduates its slowest student,’” said 71-year-old Alex Ross, who began working on his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969.

Ross’ initial plan was to get an English degree, but in his second year, he began looking at a different field.

“I was besotted with theatre at the time. It was alive then, with a sense of vitality and newness. It seemed just electric to me,” Ross said.

He dropped out of UBC to pursue an acting career, but Ross gave up his chase of the spotlight in 1975.

“It wasn’t going to be healthy for me. I knew I was a good actor but I always thought you had to be great,” he said.

Ross moved on from acting to go to law school in Toronto, where he then had a 35-year long career as a civil litigator.

He returned to UBC in November 2016. Ross will walk across the stage on May 25, finally receiving his undergraduate degree.

Yee Siong Pang will likely be the only graduate older than Ross at this upcoming convocation events.

The 78-year-old will be graduating from UBC on May 26, where he will accept his second degree from UBC and his fifth degree overall.

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This degree was in linguistics, something Pang was interested in but never pursued until now.

“I’ve learned so much about where I live and its culture from taking courses at the linguistics department, particularly about First Nations and Indigenous language revitalization,” Pang said.

Pang also has degrees in electrical engineering, business administration, education, and mathematics. He teaches math and physics in Vancouver.

His bit of advice for those who want to return to school: “Study something you’re interested in and keep at it.”

Meanwhile, Floria Gu is making UBC history by being the youngest person to graduate.

“I had a lot of anxiety at first about my age,” said Gu. “I don’t really think of it anymore.”

In 2016, at the age of 12, Gu was able to move out of elementary school and into the university transition program at the Vancouver-based university.

“I really just went about my school work to get the best grades I could,” she said.

At just 18, Gu will be accepting a computer science degree on May 30.

Gu is looking to pursue a Master’s degree in computer graphics, hopefully leading a career in video game development.

UBC’s convocation schedule is on their website, and lasts from May 24 to June 1.