Never too Late to Graduate

May 10, 2014

Gregg Carver Completes Degree 40 Years After Starting College

ALLIANCE, Ohio – In the fall of 1974, Gregg Carver set out to play linebacker and earn a degree at the University of Mount Union. Forty years later, Carver will finally receive a long-awaited diploma as he walks across the stage at the University’s 168th Commencement ceremony on Saturday.

Carver, a 1974 West Branch high school graduate and Knox Township resident, faced many challenges during the course of earning a bachelor’s degree. After completing his first quarter at Mount Union, the opportunity to work full-time at American Steel for a good paycheck was calling, and he couldn’t resist.

“Mount Union is a challenging school – it’s not easy to come here if you don’t have the proper background and I didn’t apply myself to do as well as I should have,” he said.

Shortly after beginning work at American Steel, Carver went back to school part-time at another local school but struggled to stay interested in the coursework. He also felt he was missing out on his family life, so he took another break until 1994, when he again enrolled in a local school. In 1997, he transferred back to Mount Union as part of the Adult Studies Program. During that time, Carver took two classes a semester and took breaks when he didn’t feel confident that he’d succeed in a class. In 2000, life once again got busy for Carver, and school took a back seat. Determined to finish his degree, Carver once again picked up classes two years ago with 12 courses to go.

“I always wanted to finish but when you have a family, the main thing is putting food on the table, and going to school means time away from them,” he said.

Despite his other responsibilities, Carver always kept the dream of a college degree in the back of his mind – as well as the idea of playing for the Purple Raiders football team again one day.

“I still had three years of eligibility left,” he joked.

Carver currently works as a highway technician for the Ohio Department of Transportation and serves as a Knox Township trustee. He said his courses in business administration at Mount Union have helped him in both of these roles.

“From my standpoint, as a manager you need to look at the short-term effects of a project and also the long-term sustainability as well,” he said. “If you’re going to do something, you need to try to make things better for as many people as you can.”

One example of this took place when Carver recently spearheaded an initiative to install refurbished sirens in five locations within Knox Township using grant funds – and no taxpayer money – for the project. During the project, Carver worked with numerous local officials to get the job done.

“The people in the community are a great resource and there’s no reason I can’t touch base with them and ask questions since they’re the experts,” he said.

On Saturday, Carver will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in management and a minor in sociology. He plans to use his degree to move up in his career, although he hasn’t decided where that might take him.

“I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up – when that day comes I guess I’ll realize that’s what I need to do,” he said. “Earning my degree is something I wanted to get done because I feel that it will open so many more doors for me.”

For Carver, the many hours – and years – of hard work were more than worth the investment in his education.

“If you’re going to graduate from Mount Union, you’re going to have a good education and you should be able to go into the business world and do a good job because of the groundwork laid by professors and administrators,” he said.

Carver credits the many professors he had during his time at Mount Union, as well as fellow students, for helping him earn his degree.

“I wish I had a business so I could hire all these students,” he said. “Their ideas, energy and tenacity toward trying to make things work and work right, is astonishing. Many of these kids are not only going to school full-time but are involved in athletics and extracurricular activities as well. My hat is off to all of them.”

This weekend will be one of celebration for Carver and his family. Following Saturday’s Commencement ceremony, he plans to take his wife, Phyllis, along with their children and grandchildren, to dinner. His mother, Eleanor (Freshley ’64) Carver, also of Knox Township, is celebrating her 50-year reunion with her Mount Union classmates this weekend as well.

Carver encourages anyone considering returning to school to follow their dreams.

“It’s never too late to go back to school,” he said. “If you have a chance to go back, do it. You never know what you’ll miss. You can sit on the porch and think about it, but tons of regret weighs a lot more than the work it takes to do it.”



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