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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 5 | May 5, 2005

87 Years Young

Religious Studies grad can’t wait to continue learning

By Brenda Austin

Clarice Rummel, 87, has a twinkle in her eye when she tells you about her boyfriends at UBC. While living in residence and taking her BA in religious studies she had three boyfriends -- one in each of her first 3 years, in their late teens and 20s -- who watched out for her, took her out on Valentine’s day and, as one put it, offered protection, “so long as he was around.”

Rummel seems to have earned the affection of many students, and likewise her instructors, with her open-mindedness, friendship and unusual commitment as a full-time senior student, living on campus.

Her passion is ancient Indian Vedic philosophy, but she has studied other religions over the course of her program, as well as the usual diverse requirements for a BA. This included a course in which she had the opportunity to bring history to life for fellow students.

“I was in a huge first-year class of about 200,” she said, “when the professor talked of World War II and realised I had been a part of that. I had lots of exciting and tragic stories, so I lectured for one class period about my top secret work, intercepting the Germans’ coded messages.”

Fluent in German, Rummel was in the air force in Britain at the time. Later, she got a scholarship for her war service to study conducting and piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

In 1953, she moved to Vancouver and studied nursing at Vancouver General Hospital, but earned her living as a music teacher, retiring at 72. She travelled in Europe and went to India on her own when she was 81, staying for a while in an ashram.

“I always had a burning interest in religion and philosophy and wished I had gone to university when I was younger,” she said. Her daughter made enquiries and encouraged her to enrol at UBC.

She’s enjoyed her time here and says she had very good relationships with her professors. Now, she can’t wait to continue her studies, reading widely and going deeper into the meditative aspects of Indian philosophy.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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