08/15/2011 12:01 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2011

87-year-old Student, Richard Smith, Gets Doctorate From Florida International University (VIDEO)

An 87-year--old Florida man, who was a pilot during World War II, got his doctorate from Florida International University on Saturday.

Richard Smith, of Boca Raton, became the oldest person to graduate from the south Florida school, according to a video about him produced by FIU.

He earned his Ph.D. in American history, handwriting the draft of his dissertation on Reconstruction-era politician John Sherman, The Miami Herald reported.

"It's a good way to stay young," Smith told the Herald.

It was Smith's wife, Zenaida Hernandez Smith, who pushed him to hit the books after he retried at 70 from the family's clothing business in Miami.

"When I retired, we came down here, and now the question is, 'What are you going to do?' And my wife Zenaida said, 'I don't want you around," Smith told TV station WSVN.

Now that he's got his degree, Smith said he might want to teach, but he's taking some time to figure out his next move.

"Anyone out there who thinks it is too late to go back to school, I'm here to tell them it's not, and it's worth it," he said.