The retired primary school teacher enrolled on a bachelor's degree course in literature at Federico II University in 2011, as she had always regretted not going to university in favour of getting a job and having a family after finishing secondary school.
Despite her age, Carcaterra still had to face the same nerve-wracking ordeal that all Italian students endure before graduating – orally defending her thesis in front of a commission of academics.
Her grandchildren, children and friends were all there to support her as she explained her work on how the writings of medieval post Dante Alighieri influenced the 19th century revolutionary poet Ugo Foscolo.
Eventually, Carcaterra took her degree – graduating with top marks and honours.
“I hope it's an example to all the youngsters who give up,” she told La Stampa after her success. “If you keep going you will get there in the end.”
Vice Chancellor of Federico II University, Gaetano Manfredi, referred to Carcaterra as “an inspiration to our students” while her professor, Andrea Mazzucchi, said it had been “a strange but gratifying experience” to teach a woman of Carcaetta's age.
“She showed amazing tenacity and passion to get it done,” Mazzucchi added.