When Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport first submitted her doctoral thesis on diphtheria in 1938, she was barred from completing her oral defense under Hitler’s Nuremberg Race Laws, which disenfranchised citizens with Jewish ancestry.
The retired, 102-year-old neonatologist got a second chance at education when officials at the University Clinic in Hamburg-Eppendorf learned of the discriminatory case and formally invited her to finish her Ph.D.
Syllm-Rapoport, whose vision is now declining, worked with friends to mine online research and prepare for the thesis examination.
“I was very excited during the exam and could have done better, if I had been just a little younger,” Syllm-Rapoport told NBC News.
But the Berlin resident was apparently still sharp enough to successfully defend her work. She received her official certificate in Hamburg on June 9, surrounded by friends, family and former students.
“I am happy and proud, but this is not about me,” Syllm-Rapoport said. “This is in commemoration of those who did not make it this far.”
— Jaleesa Jones
© 2015 USA Today. Used with permission.
Posted June 15, 2015