91-year-old student Carlos Augusto Manço lives in Ribeirão Preto, in the state of São Paulo, and is currently attending the second year of the undergraduate course
91-year-old student already has a long experience in the area of architecture, engineering, and construction, and is sharing his knowledge during the classes. Picture: Centro Universitário Barão de Mauá
At 91 years of age, architectural design technician Carlos Augusto Manço is one of the best students at his class in the Architecture and Urbanism course at Centro Universitário Barão de Mauá, in Ribeirão Preto, in the state of São Paulo. “When he took the admission exam, people were asking if it was some sort of hidden camera prank,” says the student’s granddaughter, 35-year-old Isabella Bucci. According to her, some of the university’s employees and other students taking the test could not believe her grandfather was returning to the classroom.
Carlos began attending the university course in 2018, and is now in his second year. He attends his classes during the night period, and works hard to hand in all his works within the determined deadlines.
“It is not easy, because they give a lot of homework. There are eight disciplines in the course, and each professor wants us to do theirs. Sometimes I don’t even know which one to do first,” jokes the student, with a lot of lucidity and good humor.
According to him, higher education also demands many hours of reading, and there are times in which his mind is not able to keep up. “I am not used, but what I really think is most complicated is making projects in the computer. I’ve always drawn by hand, and I feel that writing down your ideas on paper is a different experience,” says the nonagenarian, who took a computer course for elderly people a few years ago, but still have a hard time dealing with the machine. “Thankfully some students help me.”
19-year-old Lorena Finassi Simões is among them. In the first semester of the course, the future architect got close to her classmate, and offered to help him. From then on, she never stopped aiding him. “We did several works together, I help him in some disciplines and print some material to help him study. But it is he who teaches me much more,” says the girl, who considers Carlos her second father.
“It is a unique experience to study next to him, because he is always joking with us, and can speak about anything. Sometimes we are having a bad day, and ‘Mr. Carlos’ acts as the class’ big daddy. He helps out everyone,” she says.
Besides, the 91-year-old student also has a long experience in the area of architecture, engineering, and construction, and shares his knowledge during classes. “He stands out. Not to mention he is extremely assiduous, engaged, and is always present during activities both in and out of the classroom. He is an exemplary student,” says the coordinator of the Architecture and Urbanism course, César Rocha Muniz.
According to the coordinator, the elderly man can often be found walking slowly through the institution’s hallways, talking to other students and even having a word with professors who insist on treating him with special care. “He has some limitations due to his age, but he always deals with them in a good mood, and complains when some teacher wants to offer him special treatment. He wants to be treated like the rest of the students, and fights for that,” points out the coordinator.
Before beginning his undergraduate studies, Carlos worked as a designer at the Ribeirão Preto campus of the University of São Paulo (USP), where he acted alongside engineers for almost 30 years. “I did the projects for the reforms of the university, and also during the expansion of the USP Medical School’s Hospital das Clínicas. I’ve learned a lot there, and retired during the 1990s,” he says.
But his taste for design began earlier, during the 1950s, when he served in the Brazilian Army. “In my battalion, there were two designers, and I really enjoyed what they did,” remembers the Ribeirão Preto-native, who concluded the mandatory military service wanting to study Architecture. “Then I began to work for the Ribeirão Preto Water and Sewage Department (DAERP) alongside an architect who helped me taking a design course. I got into that area and remained there.”
Little by little, his daily work taught him much of what he would have learned at a university, but the routine prevented him from attending a higher education course. “He only approached the subject again when one of my cousins got into an Architecture course,” explains his granddaughter Isabella, who encouraged her grandfather to chase his dream after her grandmother, Eunice Borzani Manço, died at the age of 83. “Grandpa was feeling very lonely. So, since I knew he wanted to take the course, I helped him, and I am very happy with his decision.”
Carlos has two children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, who are the motivation for so much effort at the age of 91.
“I want to show them that it is important to study, to finish a university course, and do what you like. It is certainly a dream come true,” concludes the student.
READ IT IN PORTUGUESE:
O estudante Carlos Augusto Manço, de 91 anos, mora em Ribeirão Preto, interior de São Paulo, e está no segundo ano do curso de graduação