CINCINNATI — Paul Blom began his education at the University of Cincinnati in 1946, when he returned home from serving in the Navy in World War II.
More than 70 years later, on Dec. 14, Blom will officially receive the degree he earned decades ago.
For this 94-year-old lifelong Bearcats fan, the feeling of holding his hard-earned diploma will be just as thrilling it would for any new grad.
“I’m getting more excited as time goes by, and the countdown, I guess, starts right now,” Blom said.
Blom went to Roger Bacon High School in the '40s and said the school prepared him for what was inevitable for many men his age at that time.
“The principal there said, ‘Boys, you know, the country, it’s preparing for a long war if necessary,’” he said.
Blom enlisted in '43 and was sent out on active duty July 1 of that same year. He served for three years, and when he came back to Cincinnati, he planned on going to college.
It didn't go the way he planned.
“I came down to UC thinking I was going to go to school, but, you know, it was late, it was almost August, and there wasn’t no room for me,” Blom said.
The veteran helped with the family trucking business while continuing to take night classes at UC for the next nine years. Life got in the way after a while. Facing the prospect of splitting his time between school, volunteering and work, Blom said he decided to let school go.
“You know, it kind of slipped by,” he said. "I think I only lacked maybe two courses for some reason or another. I just didn’t ever go back and finish that.”
Even without the official title of UC alumnus, Blom’s dedication to the Bearcats never wavered. But his family, knowing how close he had been, reached out to UC to see if he could receive an honorary degree.
After a little digging, the university was able to do more than honor Blom — it was able to issue him the associate's degree he had earned in full from UC Blue Ash.
“We were able to pull up his records and able to find out that he earned enough credits to earn a degree at UC,” said Terence Harrison, UC’s manager of veterans programs and services.
On Thursday, the university arranged for a walk-through before the official commencement ceremony on Dec. 14.
“I’m very happy we did this today, because it eases my mind before the crowd is here,” Blom said.
During the full ceremony, Blom will be seated next to his grandson, a member of the national guard. He will graduate from UC next year.