I write as not only a student in college, or amateur columnist, but as a proud grandson. My grandfather, Philip Knecht, marched across the stage of Capital Community College’s 2012 Commencement Ceremony, receiving, in front of 1500 people, a diploma that has been in the works for nearly 20 years. Upon his slow, cane-aided walk across the stage to earn his scroll, the crowd stood to their feet, cheering as the oldest college student in Capital’s history graduates. We were all inspired by the moment, each of us 1500 people.
Everyone knows Phil, and Phil knows everyone and then some. At 83 years old, he is the busiest man you will ever meet, balancing his life of family, friends, real estate, journalism, teaching, attending classes, and his countless volunteering for local and national political campaigns, as well as at food shelters and religious organizations. Despite recently being without a car, his social life has not been affected at all. If I can be half as involved or passionate about my actions when I am his age, I will consider myself the luckiest man alive.
However, I often do consider myself lucky for having Phil as my grandfather. Growing up, I have been introduced to hundreds of important politicians and business owners that I have long since forgotten, although, he remembers (almost) each one of them, down to recent happenings in their lives.
Now, after 2 decades of attending classes part-time at Capital, my grandfather has earned his college degree. All 1500 guests share the moment with my family, as they stand and cheer, watching Phil in his proudest moment, raise his arms with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen him make, stealing the show from the President, Valedictorian, keynote speaker, and all other celebrated guests.
At the reception, people all wondered the same thing: What’s next for the invincible Philip Knecht? Though the answer is unknown to everyone, including Phil, we can all be certain that at 83 years old, with a college diploma under his belt, the next step will be even greater.