Malaysian man, 79, earns PhD despite struggle with cataracts, commute


Muharam Awang, a 79-year-old Malaysian man, graduated and received his Ph.D. in Malay literature from the National University of Malaysia (UKM) last week.

The finish line: Muharam, a father of seven and grandfather of 17, received his Ph.D. at the 51st National University of Malaysia (UKM) Convocation Ceremony on Nov. 28. His achievement was highlighted by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities in a Facebook post on the same day, hoping it would help inspire younger people.

Encountering problems: Speaking to Sinar Harian, Muharam said he encountered some obstacles in his journey, such as having to commute back and forth from Melaka, where he lived, to the university in Bangi, Selangor. He began his Ph.D. program in 2015.

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Aside from the issue of traveling, he also lacked computer skills and suffered from blurry vision caused by cataracts. He said technical matters had been difficult for him.

Overcoming them: As a workaround, Muharam followed the advice of Dr. Zubir Idris, a senior lecturer from the faculty's Malay Language, Literature and Culture Studies Center, who told him to ask his children's help to type his research thesis, as per The Rakyat Post. His vision eventually improved after a cataract surgery in May.

Past career: Ahead of pursuing his doctorate degree, Muharam worked as a primary school teacher, teaching general studies to Form Six students. He said he pursued his Ph.D. for personal satisfaction and to overcome the feeling of inadequacy while he was still a teacher.

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