Chinese woman, 81, graduates from university … with a degree in e-commerce

Multilingual octogenarian realises her lifetime’s ambition after missing out on a college place in the 1950s

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 2:40pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 11:26pm

If you ever thought you were too old for technology, you might want to take a leaf out of Xue Minxiu’s book, the 81-year-old Chinese woman who was recently awarded a bachelor’s degree in e-commerce.

What makes the achievement even more notable is that until just a few years ago, the octogenarian from the north China city of Tianjin had almost no computer skills, The Daily News reported on Tuesday.

Born in 1936, Xue was quoted as saying that it was her life’s ambition to graduate from university. She was actually offered a place at Northwest University in Xian, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, in the 1950s, but her state-owned employer would not let her go.

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The report did not say why she was refused permission, but at that time it was not uncommon for public sector firms to do so. In fact, until a law change in 2001, higher education in China was off limits to anyone who was married or over the age of 25.

It was with that revision of the rules, that Xue decided to get her dream back on track.

While she is clearly no slouch in the learning stakes – she speaks English, French, Russian and Latin fluently – it took several years for Xue to pick up enough computer knowledge to be able to meet the basic entry requirements for her e-commerce course.

But her tenacity and hard work eventually paid off and in March 2014, she enrolled at Tianjin University’s School of Online Education, the report said.

Not that it was plain sailing from there on. Xue admitted that computing was never her strongest subject and it took her six attempts to pass that element of her degree course.

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These days, however, she is like a duck in water when it comes to drawing up Excel spreadsheets or processing images in Photoshop, the report said.

Xue’s story was well received online, with plenty of social media users praising her hard work and dedication.

“It’s never too late to study,” a person wrote on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “Young people, what’s your reason of not studying and working hard?”

“I feel ashamed in front of this granny,” wrote another.