A 96-year-old World War II veteran is gearing up to make history. Alfonso “Ponchie” Gonzales enlisted in the Navy to fight in the war back in 1942. He eventually joined the Marines and served in Japan during the war. But, there was one thing he never completed.
When he returned home, Gonzales studied at a junior college, then transferred to the University of Southern California in 1947. But, he never got his diploma.
Seventy years later, his family reached out to the university to try and claim his degree.
“I thought all I had to do was go over there and pick up my diploma, but no, I was one unit short they told me,” Gonzales laughed.
USC allowed Gonzales to finish his class. This spring, he’ll become the oldest graduate in university history.
“He is a special student and we all are delighted to have him here,” said USC Dean of School of Gerontology Pinchas Cohen.
His family said this is a lesson that it’s never too late to achieve your goal.
“Just put your mind and your heart and your soul to it, hard work pays off. He’s a true testament to that,” his great niece Dorinda Geddes said.