How 62-year-old Thomas MK is fulfilling his endless passion for learning through Online Manipal
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death,” said Albert Einstein. If one has the willingness and the right attitude to learn something, then age becomes just a number. This quote perfectly fits our learner, Thomas MK, who is 62 years old and strongly believes that learning has no boundaries. Passionate about academics since childhood, Thomas became a teacher after completing his graduation. While he taught mathematics, he always found opportunities to learn new things from his students.
After being a schoolteacher for 35 years, even post-retirement, he didn’t let go of his passion for learning and decided to pursue an online degree in data science, while he continues to take private tuition for students. Here’s a glimpse of his learning journey and experience pursuing an online degree.
What is your educational background and work experience?
I completed my BSc in Mathematics from Kerala and then moved to Gujarat and became a school teacher at St Mary’s School. I have been in the teaching profession for 35 years now, since 1985, and I retired only two years ago. Even before I became a teacher, I used to take private tuition to fund my studies.
Why did you decide to pursue an online degree?
Post retirement, I continued taking tuition at a private center. However, the classes were only in the afternoons, and I was completely free in the mornings. Unable to sit idle, I decided to take up an online degree. Since Covid, we are used to taking classes in the online mode. So, I found this degree to be an opportunity for me to learn something new and interesting from the comfort of my home.
Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree at this age?
This is a common question I’ve been asked since the time I enrolled for this degree. My family members advised me to save up instead of spending it on education. But these questions don’t bother me. I have always been financially independent, and I didn’t have to ask anybody to fund my education. Considering my everlasting passion for learning, I decided to utilize my free time by pursuing an online degree. Moreover, I don’t consider taking coaching classes as a ‘job’ or ‘business’. I only want to remain active and help students.
My school and college friends are now professors, some are principals at schools and some of them are working in banks. They were very appreciative of me pursuing a master’s degree at this age.
Why did you choose MSc in Data Science?
Even though I’m interested in computer science, I didn’t have enough knowledge about coding to pursue an MCA degree. Also, my youngest daughter pursued her MSc in Data Science and is currently working in Bangalore. I already knew about the program. So, I thought MSc data science would be a better choice. I’m very happy to pursue a degree in data science because it is an emerging domain. Even though I’m not looking to apply for a full-time job after completing my degree, I might want to be a freelancer. I basically don’t want to sit idle.
How has your experience been with Online Manipal?
I’m very thankful to Manipal Academy of Higher Education for giving me this opportunity to pursue my online degree. The live classes are very useful. The curriculum is up to date and the faculty members are knowledgeable. The help desk was extremely supportive.
What are your other interests?
When I was in school and college, computers were not popular, and they were not part of our syllabus. Only computer courses were available, and they were very expensive. There were no IT courses and hardly any engineering colleges at that time. So, we had to either choose a BSc or BA. Therefore, after completing my BSc, I was looking for jobs and I happened to become a teacher. However, I was curious to improve my computer skills. At that time, I only knew MS Office. One day, my wife told me that MS Office is a very basic computer skill that many are aware of. I took this as a challenge and wanted to improve my knowledge about computers.
With my limited knowledge of computers, I came up with a database program through Excel. I began studying Excel Visual Basic Analysis (VBA). I came up with my own customized program and user interface, which became popular in the school I was teaching.
What is your aim in life?
My aim in life is to become a computer expert. Today, children know how to use computers and as their teacher, I thought I should grow with them. I realized that I have the potential of becoming a computer expert.
What is your message to people who think age is a barrier to pursuing education?
If your health and financial status are not a barrier, then there is no boundary for learning. I never felt that I’m old and that I should stop learning. People will always be judgmental about your actions. I turned a deaf ear to people who questioned why I decided to pursue an online degree at the age of 62. For instance, when I was learning Excel VBA, my friends who were programmers told me that I cannot get anything out of Excel. But I proved them wrong. I strongly believe that age is just a number.
For many, retirement is seen as a transition that opens doors to new opportunities. For those who have love for learning, online education is a great opportunity to explore as they can earn a degree or upskill from the comfort of their homes. Online education also breaks financial barriers, as they are more affordable. Learning at an older age can be seen as a great opportunity to continue contributing to society.
Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.
Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.
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