Campus: San Francisco State University -- May 14, 2003
SFSU's Oldest Graduate: 77-Year-Old Veteran Earns
Fourth College Degree
Stockton resident Raymond King has studied foreign languages, literatures
at SFSU since 1993
At a time when most retirees rest and relax, Stockton resident Raymond
King began his university education at age 67.
King’s parents would not allow him to attend college when he was
young. Instead, he served as a cadet for the British Navy from 1946
to 1953 and fought in the Korean War. He then moved to Hong Kong, married
and raised five children while working various jobs for the Hong Kong
government until 1986. His last job was as a housing manager for the
Hong Kong government.
At San Francisco State University’s 102nd Commencement ceremony
on Saturday, May 24, King will earn his fourth degree — a master
of arts in Chinese literature. He is the oldest graduate among the 7,238
students in SFSU’s Class of 2003.
King, 77, has made up for lost time by attending SFSU full time for
10 years. A language and literature lover, the Shanghai native has earned
bachelor’s degrees in Chinese literature and Japanese. He also
has taken Spanish and Italian courses at SFSU and holds an associate
degree in real estate from City College of San Francisco.
“I like reading books and I like to translate them,” King
said, referring to his longtime interest in Chinese classics such as
“The Dream of the Red Chamber.” “I have always loved
literature and this school has allowed me to expand my knowledge and
In the early 1990s, he turned down opportunities to work in the Bay
Area real-estate market, instead choosing to further pursue his higher
education. Unlike most college students, he is not interested in using
his degrees to get a job.
“I come here to study for the knowledge — not for anything
else,” he said. “My reasons are different than some others.
Four degrees at my old age? I’m very proud of myself.” Charles
Egan, assistant professor of Chinese literature, said King is “young
at heart and is a real character.” Egan has enjoyed having him
as a student.
“He is committed to classical Chinese literature and really enjoys
it,” Egan said. “He always was a nice, supportive member
of our group of Chinese literature students and faculty, which is pretty
small and close-knit.”
King moved from Hong Kong to Louisiana in 1988 because one of his sons
lived there. The following year he moved to San Francisco, then to Fremont
several years ago and Stockton last year.
King, whose daughter Ann King earned a bachelor’s degree in business
from SFSU, enjoys reading and jogging in his spare time. A grandfather
of seven who now lives alone, he believes that exercising, eating healthfully
and continuously expanding his mind are the keys to a happy elderly
“If you have knowledge, you can have anything you like,”
he said. “At my age, I’m still very clear in my brain.”
King finished all course requirements for his master’s degree
last year. His final exam, a rigorous two-part test in Chinese, was
the only requirement left for him to receive his diploma.
He is now putting a close on his college career. His only plan after
Commencement is to continue reading, catching up on the many books in
NOTE: To arrange interviews with Raymond King, contact
the SFSU Office of Public Affairs at
(415) 338-1665 or firstname.lastname@example.org. King will be available for interviews
before the Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 24. A transcript of SFSU’s
Commencement will be posted online shortly after the conclusion of Commencement
on May 24 at: www.sfsu.edu/~news.