This 102-year-old got her doctorate 77 years after Nazis wouldn't let her even take the test. BOOM.

That'll show'em.

In the 1930s, none of this seemed possible. But here we are.

Ingeborg Rapoport escaped two oppressive government regimes (one was McCarthy-era USA ... oops), got a ton of education, reduced the infant mortality rate in a huge western country (Germany), became Europe's first neonatal professor, and raised a Harvard professor (and three other kids!).

But she wasn't done.


It was time to stick it to the Nazis.

BOOM goes the doctorate. Image via The National Archives UK/Flickr and German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons (altered).

How?

By finishing the degree from the University of Hamburg that the Nazi regime denied her when she was 25.

At the age of 102.

And not an honorary one. NO! It's the actual doctorate she was denied in 1937 because her mom was of Jewish descent.

She'd done everything she needed to do to get a medical doctorate. She just had to defend her thesis on diphtheria (a leading cause of infant death in Germany in 1937, when she was originally set to graduate).

But according to the Nuremberg Laws passed in 1935, she wasn't allowed to do her oral exam.

That's messed up.

Fast forward 77 butt-kicking years later, and Ingeborg was going to defend her doctoral thesis.

We're talking a thesis on diphtheria. And not 1937 diphtheria ... modern diphtheria. Yes. She would have to be completely adept and she would be graded on the normal University of Hamburg scale for defending a doctoral thesis in 2015. Very serious. And very hard.

ONE EXTRA PROBLEM:

Ingeborg can't see very well anymore.

She can no longer read normal text, and she cannot use a computer.

NO.

No no no.

But she didn't worry.

Because she had friends. She had been living in Berlin after leaving McCarthy-era America in the '50s. She'd had an amazing medical career. But it was time to form a study group! Her study group studied up for her (they researched, read, and studied modern diphtheria) and called her up to recite all their new diphtheria knowledge!

Her study group of friends gave her all the details she needed. After all, she did have a head start (big-time) as one of the top neonatal doctors in Germany. But at 102 when you have a doctoral thesis to defend, ya gotta have friends.

AND?

She passed.

She told the BBC:

"It was about the principle ... I didn't want to defend my thesis for my own sake. After all, at the age of 102 all of this wasn't exactly easy for me. I did it for the victims [of the Nazis]."

BOOM.


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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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