69-year-old Vietnamese woman earns PhD


Education is an arduous process that requires a lot of discipline and hard work. Many people, for different reasons, give up on their education at some point in their lives. Some give up because they can’t afford the fees, some quit early to take care of their families, while others think that they’re too old to further their education.

No matter how old you are or what education opportunities you have missed, it’s never too late to continue pursuing your education and make your dreams come true. And that is the story of Madame Nguyễn Thị Hồng Cúc, a 69-year-old graduate from the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, who successfully earned her PhD degree on 14th May.


She started her PhD at age 63


Born in 1952 and enrolled in the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City at the age of 63, Madame Cúc is one of the oldest graduates in her university and in Vietnam to date.

For most of her life working in the education sector, Madame Nguyễn Thị Hồng Cúc has been interested in studying how universities that are not operated by the government overcome challenges such as their organizational structures and management.

She wanted to further her studies in these areas and also to exchange her ideas with other educators, so she was determined to enroll in a PhD program majoring in Vietnam’s early modern and modern history.

69 year old graduate thesis defense
Madame Cúc during her thesis defense
Image credit: The Voice of Ho Chi Minh City People

After 6 years of studying, her hard work came to fruition as she successfully graduated from the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City.


She has a passion for education


Not letting her age, health, and social responsibilities get in her way of learning, Madame Cúc consistently set an excellent example for her fellow classmates and teachers with her discipline and commitment to learning.

To complete her PhD, she had to participate in a discussion that lasted over 3 hours. Throughout the discussion, which is known as thesis defense, Madame Nguyễn Thị Hồng Cúc remained calm and composed, presenting her argument and answering questions from the faculty members.

Dr Quyết, a faculty member, shared that Madame Cúc fell ill after the preliminary round of thesis defense. Everybody was worried that she would not make it to the final round.

“But she made it through to the final round with a lot of effort. It means she was serious about her study regardless of her age,” Dr Quyết said.

69 year old graduate
Image credit: The Voice of Ho Chi Minh City People


Netizens are impressed


The story of Madame Nguyễn Thị Hồng Cúc was shared on the Facebook page of Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, and has earned over 600 likes at the time of writing. Netizens were also impressed with Madame Cúc’s unwavering dedication to her studies.

Facebook user Peter Ueh commented, “I have so much admiration for you and your success in defending your doctoral thesis.”

69 year old graduate comment
“Hats off to you,” Facebook user Nguyễn Phạm Minh Thư commented.

69 year old graduate
Image credit: Đại học Quốc Gia TP.HCM


You’re never too old to learn anything


For people of Madame Cúc’s age, learning is no longer about trying to earn high grades or a well-paid job. She persisted with her study and research work out of sheer passion for her causes and dedication towards the society.

Madame Cúc is setting a great example for the young people about the nature of education, which is to keep learning no matter our age. 

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Cover image adapted from: The Voice of Ho Chi Minh City People

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