After putting it off for most of his life, Manfred Steiner, a nearly 90-year-old man from Rhode Island, USA, achieved his dream of getting a doctorate in physics.
Streiner was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. After World War II ended, his mother advised him to study medicine as a better option for the difficult times they were going through. So he earned his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1955.
According to AP, shortly after graduating as a doctor, Streiner moved to the United States but never stopped thinking about one of his life goals, which was to become a physicist, and he has achieved it at the age of 89.
“It was something like a wish that was never fulfilled, that always stuck in the back of my head,” he said. “I always thought, you know, once I’m finished with medicine, I really don’t want to spend my life just sitting around and maybe doing a little golfing or doing something like that. I wanted to keep active.”
Steiner studied hematology at Tufts University and biochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He eventually earned a degree in hematology from Brown University, where he served as a full professor and directed Brown’s medical school from 1985 to 1994.
At age 70, with a prosperous professional career under his belt, he decided to go for his dream of becoming a physicist. He began coursework for the degree and, by 2007, the Ph.D., having accumulated enough credits to earn it.
“It’s my third doctorate, but this one I really cherish a lot. That I made it—and made it at this age,” Steiner said in an interview with NPR.
“I always had this dream: Gee, someday I would like to become a physicist,” added Steiner, who is soon to turn 90.
According to what he said, as a teenager in Vienna, he found inspiration to become a physicist after reading about Albert Einstein and Max Planck.
In a press release announcing his dissertation entitled “Corrections to the Geometrical Interpretation of Bosonization,” the proud student who deeply admired physical precision said, “I am truly on top of the world.”
Brad Marston, a physics professor at Brown University in Providence—where Manfred Steiner graduated—and who officiated as an advisor for his dissertation, said:
“He has written many papers in medical science, more papers than I’ve written in physics. He already had a scientific way of thinking that younger students have to develop.”
“And any research problem that’s worth its salt, you’re going to run into roadblocks. If you let obstacles discourage you, you won’t get anywhere. One thing that’s really true about Manfred is he perseveres,” the Steiner professor added.
The recent graduate said the advice he can leave for those who have a dream is, “Do pursue it because later in life you maybe regret it, that you didn’t do that,” he said. “You wish you could’ve followed this dream.”
It can be said that you are never too old to take a path of sacrifice that leads to the desired goal, and this 89-year-old man who went through numerous obstacles, including serious health issues, has proven that.