For most people, it only takes four years to obtain an undergraduate degree, but for 94-year-old Anthony Brutto, it took over 70 years.
The Morgantown native will go down in history as one of West Virginia University’s oldest graduates when he accepts his diploma on Sunday, May 17. He will join some 4,500 students during Commencement Weekend where he will be awarded his Regents Bachelor of Arts, according to the WVU website.
— U.S. News Education (@USNewsEducation) May 12, 2015
Brutto’s journey to get a college education started in 1939 and shows how you can do anything when you set your mind to it. His story is one of motivation and dedication and encourages others to follow your dreams.
He was born to an Italian immigrant family in a close-knit community where his love of woodworking would eventually flourish. He eagerly watched his neighbor craft violins out of wood and decided he would create things people could use. His first masterpiece: a key to get the candy out of his mother’s locked wooden chest.
“It actually worked,” he said with a smile, remembering the fond memory.
When Anthony first entered WVU, he was set on perusing a degree in engineering, thinking that it would help him with his his love for design. However, it was more difficult than he imagined, and he eventually switched to physical education and industrial arts.
“I worked in the shop with wood and did metalworking,” he said. “I started making jewelry.”
In 1942, as he was nearing his graduation, Brutto was drafted and served in the Army Air Corps until the end of World War II. While in the military, he attended several aircraft mechanic schools and learned how to build and repair P39 and P49 bombers.
In 1946, Anthony re-enrolled in hopes of finally getting to finish his college education. However, he had to again drop out to care for his sick wife. Until the ’80s, when he officially retired, Brutto worked as a machinist at different factories.
Anthony Brutto, a 94-year-old WWII veteran, is excited to be a WVU graduate. He made that wooden bird and chain. pic.twitter.com/WhPLf61852
— Samuel Speciale (@samueljspeciale) May 12, 2015
His love of woodworking has followed him throughout his life, and he still manages to make his handcrafted pieces and sells them at the Appalachian Gallery in Morgantown.
Now, in his 90s, Brutto has found the time to finally fill his desire of being a college graduate. While his tuition cost a bit more than the $50 he paid in 1939, he says the money was definitely worth it.
“It was always important to me to graduate,” he said.
“I think it’s wonderful that he’s getting this after all these years,” his wife, Donna Brutto, told ABC News. “He most certainly deserves it.”
As for his future plans, Anthony said he thinks he will take some time off before starting his master’s degree.
[Photo by Brian Persinger/WVU website]