I graduated Syracuse University-—at the age of 50. This was back in the 70’s when not a lot of people did this kind of thing. I am now 85.
For many years, I had hoped to finish my degree and the opportunity came when I happened to meet with a former Syracuse University professor who paved the way for me to return with the possibility of being awarded a scholarship.
Thirty years earlier in the wartime years of the 40’s I was an 18 year old freshman, majoring in fine arts. Oh, yes, I wanted to pursue a career as a “starving young artist”. Well, maybe not starving! But finishing my college years was not destined to be at that time. That big leveler–money–entered the picture and I wasn’t able to continue my studies.
I left for New York City and found a job with a lithographic firm, working as a production artist. Though it was not known at the time, we were working on highly classified maps for the invasion of Paris. Because the pay was extraordinary for a 19 year old, I indulged my new found wealth-—at one time buying a pair of $28.00 shoes, an exorbitant amount in those days.
Some years later, with my skills improved, came Inspiration! Could I make it in the post- war employment boom? Opportunity! A friend in the advertising industry helped me land a job in an advertising agency as a copywriter. Convinced that journalism was my professional ticket, I joined a radio station as an intern where I wrote commercial copy. Opportunity! I was given the chance to have my own program—a Saturday morning program for children. That didn’t last. A personal necessity forced me to move back to my home town.
By that time, with an impressive resume, I was inspired to become involved in medical communications. Opportunity! I was hired by Yale University Hospital as a Public Relations Officer. A chance meeting (that’s where it became an Opportunity) with the former Syracuse University professor attending a conference at Yale, led to his recommendation that I apply for a scholarship to return to college.
Having long nurtured a fantasy of living in golden California, I decided to take the risk and travel there to see if the next opportunity was alive and kicking. It was. Inspiration! I volunteered with the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Opportunity! The Public Relations person there decided that opera was her PR thing and she left to join another organization. As I was involved on a daily basis with the Rep and had assisted with a successful major fund raiser at the time, the Director pointed a finger at me and said, “You’re hired”!
Inspiration is everywhere. We only have to recognize it. And opportunity is sure to follow. At the age of 85, I‘m writing and publishing. I teach a watercolor painting class for children, work on scrapbooking my life and those of my two sons, sing in my Church choir and look for the next opportunities that are certain to surface.
I thrive on Inspiration and Opportunity. I encourage you to do the same.