06/13/2012 AT 11:00 AM EDT
Among the students at Tuesday's graduation ceremony for Brooklyn's Kingsborough Community College was a classmate who's already had several decades of real-world experience.
Joseph Pinsky, 85, donned a cap and gown as he received his associate's degree this week after 10 years at the school, reports CBS New York
A retired grandfather, Pinsky says it was actually his wife, Rosalind, who encouraged him (in a roundabout way) to pursue a college degree.
"I'm very proud of him because I asked him, 'What are you going to do when you retire? You have to do something,' " Rosalind told CBS.
"I did that to waste time because she said, 'Get out of the house,' " Pinsky said of his studies.
Because of various medical issues both he and Rosalind faced, it took Joseph 10 years to complete his degree – and it was again Rosalind who encouraged him to keep at it.
"Believe it or not, working with young people, it was stimulating and they treated me like one of the group," Joseph told the local news.
"It keeps your mind active, and that's important," he added.
And though the course work was even physically trying at times, Pinsky was surrounded by a support network on campus. One day, the school contacted Rosalind to say that her husband had fallen, according to CBS.
"I get to the school, I go in and he's surrounded by a load of women, he's playing some video games," said Rosalind.
Pinsky had studied aviation mechanics in high school, but immediately enlisted when he graduated in 1944. Upon returning to the States after serving in the Philippines during World War II, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a supervisor of mail carriers.
Next up for the grad? More education, according to the news report, and perhaps a bachelor's degree.