By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – August 27, 2023) – I had to do the math, and when I did, I realized that it had been 23 years since I last sat in a classroom at Morgan State University. The last time attended graduate school there, I had a 4-year-old son and was working as the editor of the Sandtown-Winchester VIEWPOINT Newspaper. I was 35 years old and was about to get married when I came to the conclusion that school was going to have to take the back burner. My new marriage, new baby (my daughter who is now 21), and my new business had taken precedence and were simply way too much to manage along with grad school.
It was, to say the least, the most challenging decision. After all, I was all-but-thesis. I was almost done.
For nearly a quarter center, I have not been able to remove that “Scarlett letter”. I was stained for almost an eternity.
And then one day, I was driving past Morgan State and listening to this one particular gospel song that spoke about God’s restorative powers. And while I cannot recall the exact song that was playing, I knew that God was talking to me. The song had somehow planted a seed in my psyche that it was time to go back and get what I came for long ago.
And so, I found myself applying. Mind you, this was no overnight attempt. It was about three years later that I arrested my procrastination and exercised a proactive effort to get this thing finally done.
Interestingly, I had made a promise even before I started grad school in 1996. Way back in 1993, I signed a promise to get my Ph.D. You see, it was a requirement to get into the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program at Coppin State. All scholars signed this agreement, and if you knew the director of the program, Dean T. J. Bryant, then you’d see that she was dead serious about that sort of oath.
Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of attending my first in-person class at Morgan. I was joined by other students to whom life had also happened. There were others, like me, who were in their 50s; some were in their 60s and 70s but none of that mattered yesterday as Dr. Carla Jackson welcomed both Master’s degree and Ph.D. candidates to the current Morgan Completes You (MCY) cohort.
I was warmed to my soul to be surrounded by others who also had their travails but who never relinquished their dream of finishing grad school.
I learned something, too.
Colleges and universities are increasingly focused on older Americans returning to college.
Having watched Morgan State University President David K. Wilson from his very first day on campus, I am so proud of this man for taking the bull by the horns. It is one thing to be an academic. It is another to have vision and foresight. Wilson is a big part of why Morgan is expanding by leaps and bounds as a premiere research institution in the United States. That president is blazing a trail and taking no prisoners!
The MCY Program, in my best estimation, is a Godsend.
“Ensuring the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible is more than a commitment; it is the bedrock of who we are as an institution and Morgan Completes You presents a navigable path to degree completion for so many adult learners who are negotiating real life in the real world,” said David K. Wilson, president of Morgan.
Dr. Wilson said that back in 2021.
He added, “With these new interdisciplinary degree programs, specialized and adapted to meet the unique needs of today’s modern adult learner, Morgan reaffirms its commitment as a leader in developing unique and innovative programs that produce highly proficient graduates ready to contribute within the modern, global workforce.”
Dr. Linda J. Gilliam, who chairs the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents, said in that same press release, “We are very excited about MCY and fully embrace the direction that Morgan is taking that will undoubtedly lead to tens of thousands of students to come back to college and complete what they started. As a leader in higher education, Morgan is keenly aware that our state and nation will not be as competitive as it needs to be long-term without opening more doors for individuals to complete a high-quality college degree.”
According to the Lumina Foundation, the growing population of “stop-outs” – people with “some college, no degree” – has reached nearly 37 million people in the U.S., an increase of 22% over the past five years. Within this segment, 10% or approximately 3.5 million are considered “potential completers” as they carry the equivalent of at least two years’ worth of full-time college enrollment during the past decade and have a high potential to earn a credential if they re-enroll.
So, as my late father would say every September before school would start, “It’s back to the salt mines!” I think the thing that really got me at yesterday’s in-person orientation was the graduation card activity. Dr. Jackson had us all sign cards to ourselves that would be presented when we finally walk the stage to receive our degrees. That was the kicker. That made all of this so very real … if not surreal!
If you or anyone you know needs to finish college, then do consider Morgan Completes You. I highly recommend it!