Degree: 2021, MALS
Job Title: Wine, Food and Culture Journalist
“I wasn’t ready to retire when DuPont in 1999 gave me an offer that I didn’t want to refuse. So I consulted (doesn’t everyone?) for a couple of years while I was building up credentials as a freelance writer – something I had dabbled in since my teens. My specialty became wine and food, as well as travel and popular culture, which gave me reason to take at least a half-dozen overseas reporting trips every year. At 78, it’s still what I do. At any one time, I write for 15-20 different publications in the U.S., England and Germany.
“When I passed age 50 – the Prime Meridian for aging – I found what I missed most from my youth was the small-group seminars I attended in the ‘60s at a small liberal arts college in West Virginia and in grad school at the University of Illinois. I missed being dazzled by the intellect and experience of my professors, but mostly by how they served as debate masters as we students batted ideas back and forth around a seminar table, then went away to write about it.
“Finally in late 2018, I interviewed with Tara Kee and a couple of her colleagues and was admitted into the MALS program. In the classes since, I have delved into the histories and philosophies of imperialism, modern technology, sex and gender, the East/West cultural divide, U.S. diplomacy (or lack thereof) and the anthropology of tourism. My graduate project – a book, actually – is finished and approved, and, at the time of this writing, I have two classes left. I am due to finish at year’s end.
“At their best, MALS faculty are like experienced tour guides, the ones who give a morning circuit of a new city and say, “Okay, now that you have an overview, take the next few days exploring whatever interests you. Here’s my cell number if you want to discuss.” Except they are giving us intros to thoughts and ideas in their given fields – not just dry facts – and it has been up to us to react, internalize, research, discuss, write. They have treated us respectfully as colleagues, albeit junior colleagues.
“What will I take away from MALS? One of the great things about growing older is that, rather than collecting credentials, we search for experiences – in my case revisiting graduate school in full. I suspect we value these experiences even more than folks in their 20s, who get all the credit for doing it. I have always been fascinated my new ideas, new theories, MALS having hit my mental reset button. I am now even more fascinated by the myriad things I read in newspapers, magazines and online. And take time to think, explore and perhaps even write about them.”