At WSU, One Non-traditional Student Finds Non-traditional Pathways

Read all about Robert Megerdichian and his experience at WSU as a 65 year-old student.

Abraham Megerdichian at Oil Gear

By Robert Megerdichian

I’m 65 years old and enrolled as a graduate student at WSU, thank you very much! During a time of life when most of my contemporaries are scaling back, my own life is doing quite the opposite. It is expanding, thanks in large part to my studies at Worcester State.

With persistence and some luck, I’ll graduate with a master of science degree in nonprofit management when I’m about 70. I thank my in-law, Gary Cato—a colleague in the nonprofit management program—for tipping me off as to the very existence of the program.

In addition to being a student, I continue to operate my own architectural services business of 29 years and, for the last six years, my secondary business of restoring old baseball gloves. For the past 4 years I’ve been seeking museums to exhibit metal art that my late father, Abraham, crafted.

He was a machinist for his entire, nearly 40-year, career in the jet engines division at General Electric, in Lynn, MA.

Beside his normal work he was an artist, machining his interpretations of everyday objects from scrap metal at work during his lunch breaks as gifts for family and friends. By the time of his passing in 1983 he had created several hundred objects which lay in storage until about four years ago. At that time, I cataloged and photographed the collection and began promoting the art to museums for loan and display. I am pleased to report that I now have had his art exhibited at over a dozen museums, and more exhibits are planned in 2018.

My ultimate dream is to open a family museum to celebrate the art of my father and other industrial folk artists.

WSU is giving me the training I will need to open the museum, and I must admit I’m loving every minute. Being engaged with students half my age or less is truly exciting. I am thoroughly rapt by the readings and assignments. Classes consist of two-plus hours of thought-provoking questions and answers. It really makes me want to learn. Even if the personal museum idea does not materialize, I realize how much more experienced and fulfilled I will be given my WSU education. I wish everyone’s college experience could be as enlightening as mine.

To my fellow “senior” students (i.e., over 60) I commend you for getting out of your normal surroundings to come to WSU to expand your horizons. I’m amazed at how many of you I saw, some with your wheelchairs and walkers, on registration day, seeking a class in art or a degree in economics. To the undergraduates, not to patronize, I offer this advice: Stay focused and ask more questions of yourselves, your classmates, your professors, and old geezers like me. You really don’t know till you ask what people know and how they can help you. My best wishes for success to all my classmates.

Abraham’s art will be on display in 2018 at the Charles River Museum of Industry, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Massachusetts State House, and Stonehill College. You can find more info at https://abesartwork.wordpress.com/ or by Googling “Abraham Megerdichian.” I hope you get to see the art in person.

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