paperwork’s complete. bring on tomorrow.

©2011 gary

Next to being a Dad, my middle aged return to higher education has been one of the most rewarding events in my life. Receiving my bachelor’s degree at 48 years of age was a personal landmark. It was official. I’d been bitten by the education bug and prior to graduating in 2008, I’d already applied and accepted my invitation to attend graduate school in Virginia Commonwealth University’s highly ranked School of the Arts program. 

I continued my forward educational momentum while also working full time for the university. Education and creativity surrounded me. I felt at home. Two years and one day after attending my very first graduate level class, my thesis art exhibition opened at the Rawls Museum. My frantic pace and life’s ambitions merged. It was spectacular. A few weeks later, just before graduation, I was humbled with my invitation and induction into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. 

Throughout my entire life, I’ve always attempted to make good decisions. There were certainly numerous times when I fell far short, but my late in life decision to return to college has become one of my absolute best. Quite honestly with my working class upbringing, I never would have imagined ever being able to use the phrase college graduate associated with Gary Garbett. And to one day earn a Masters degree was simply unimaginable. My only regret is that I wish my father could have seen some of this unfold. He would have been so proud. Who knows, maybe he was watching.

There was a voice mail waiting for me on Monday as I returned home from the office. The voice was personable, upbeat, and professional. It was the university’s Student Services office calling to say that my diploma was ready for pick up. I smiled and erased the message. With a few moments to breathe, I now look back and I’m incredibly proud of the work, direction, and growth, both personally and artistically that I’ve made over the past few years. I’m truly a blessed and lucky, lucky man. 

I’m just now feeling like I’m getting started and I’ve got a hell of a long way to go before being done. Life is simply that good and I look forward to what it decides to bring tomorrow. I may even set my alarm earlier for a preview glimpse.


  1. bibliofinz
    January 26, 2011

    Gary, you have every right to be proud of yourself! I, too, am very proud of the educational achievements I am in the process of working towards. It takes courage to go back to school the way you and I have, at our (advanced) age, and we have proven ourselves up to the task! Hooray for you, hooray for me, and hooray to all the moms and dads who have gone back to college in their forties.

  2. Da Weave
    January 27, 2011

    Well done man, well done! I've been mulling over returning to school myself. I have two degrees from community college (a certificate in Media Production Technology and an Associates in Computer Graphics), so should have a head start on a BA. I'll spare you the usual excuses as to why I haven't manage to get back in there yet. You have already provided inspiration to blog everyday (and by extension two of my friends are doing the same. The ripples in the pond…), so maybe you'll help me move on the school thing too. I believe I owe you a beer Gary!

    OK HW

  3. gary garbett
    January 27, 2011

    Patty, Congrats on your forward motion too. What will the county do with two advanced aged graduates within the same year. We might even have to throw a parade on the downtown Main St. and light some flares.


  4. gary garbett
    January 27, 2011

    You're a good soul there Hal.
    Although I rarely see you face to face, I know you well enough and it's not like you've been doing the couch potato thing. You've been busy. That's who you are. If anyone can appreciate that, I can. As for the Community Colleges, I'm a full believer of those opportunities. It was J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College that provided the open door for me to return to school after having been away for two decades. Within a year, I was applying back to VCU. I never looked back, but I know where I came from. I was actually commuting between both schools for two semesters. It was awesome.

    Glad to hear of those ripples. Let's create a wave.



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