Oakville man is the oldest graduate from U of T Mississauga this spring

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Published June 13, 2023 at 3:09 pm

An Oakville man is the oldest person to graduate from the University of Toronto Mississauga this spring.

At 76, John Bond is the oldest U of T Mississauga grad this spring – and among the oldest graduates at the university this year, UTM confirmed.

Earning a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in history and classical civilization, Bond graduated at Convocation Hall at the downtown campus on June 7.

Despite a recent knee surgery, Bond made it to the stage and was glad to be there with his wife, daughter, son and son-in-law, he tells insauga.com.

“It was a fantastic day,” Bond says. “It was a real thrill.”

Because of his recent knee surgery, he was given the “VIP” treatment with seats in the front row for the ceremony. There was thunderous applause as Bond crossed the stage.

This is Bond’s third degree from U of T. He earned an engineering degree and a master’s degree in applied engineering in the late 1960s at the downtown campus. He went on to a long career in civil engineering working for Canadian National Railway Company on bridge replacement for 36 years and then consulting work for 12 years.

A keen interest in ancient Roman infrastructure and travel there led him to pursue history.

“When I saw the infrastructure around Rome such as aqueducts and fountains — the supply of water is very much civil engineering,” he said. “Seeing the fountains that are all fed by aqueducts in Rome; it was fascinating.”

He chose UTM because of its proximity to Oakville. Starting his degree in 2012, Bond took one or two courses a semester fitting them into his work schedule.

After he retired, he was able to travel as he studied. He even answered a quiz about sites and events in Rome while he was in Rome. And he read Homer’s Odyssey for a classics course while sitting on a hotel patio overlooking the blue Mediterranean on the Amalfi Coast.

One of the biggest changes in studying today, compared to 55 years ago, is the addition of computers.

“Computers are a central part of taking the course now,” he says.

He took lecture notes by hand as students around him mostly used computers. Much of the course material and quizzes are online but having used computers for much of his career that wasn’t a challenge.

It was a bit challenging being the oldest person in the class at times.

“It was a little hard because of my age difference to make friends,” he says.

But he enjoyed the courses and eventually got to know some of his fellow students. He also liked meeting the professors.

“Back in the 60s, there wasn’t much contact with professors, it was a little less personal at that time,” he says. “The professors were very willing to give their time and advice.”

And the professors enjoyed working with him.

“John Bond is the kind of student that every professor wants to teach – he is genuinely interested in learning, possesses an informed worldview and questions established interpretations of the past,” Christopher Petrakos, associate professor told UTM.

“John has been an excellent student – diligent with his research, curious to learn new things and always interested to hear what the other students think,” said Mairi Cowan, associate professor.

Bond is not the oldest person to ever earn a degree at U of T.

In 2021, 88-year-old Molly Sutkaitis earned her master’s degree in theology at the University of Toronto.

Bond says he plans to continue taking any history courses that interest him but likely won’t go for another degree. Learning, however, can be a life-long pursuit.

“You should never give up – always go for more education; get as much as you can. There are always new things to learn,” Bond told UTM.

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