Better Late than Never: Garfield Jackson ’04 SCPS and Doris Jackson ’08 SCPS Did it “Backwards”
For most people, returning to college in their 50s is not at the top of their mind, especially after having established careers and raised children.
When Garfield Jackson ’04 SCPS, chose to return to school in his late 50s, he did so because of his two sons. Four years later, Garfield’s experience led his wife of 47 years, Doris Jackson ’08 SCPS to choose the School of Continuing & Professional Studies as well.
Garfield, whose degree in human resources and management helped him get his current position as manager of partnership development and recruitment with Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region, entered CHC with 29 accepted credits, making his decision to return that much easier.
Garfield Jackson came to CHC with 29 credits from years of schooling between job relocations and raising the couple’s two sons. But college wasn’t something he pictured for himself as a young man. According to Garfield, growing up in a house with six women, there was never even a conversation about attending college.
“It was my responsibility to go to high school and get a job to be able to provide for the family, help out with the bills and do those kind of manly things,” he says. “I never envisioned graduating from college because it wasn’t something that was passed down to me.”
Following his service in Vietnam, Garfield began his collegiate career on the GI Bill without a real goal in mind and it wasn’t until many years later, influenced by his sons’ desire to see their father finish his education, that he became serious.
“I wanted to get my degree and do it as quickly as possible,” he says. “Chestnut Hill’s program offered me that flexibility and this comfortable atmosphere so that I could get a degree while working at the same time. It was a great experience.”
While Garfield focused on completing his education, Doris, who had spent many years working in the Methacton School District, held down the fort at home, waiting until Garfield graduated to pursue her own dream of becoming a teacher.
When he graduated in 2004, not only was she proud of him, but she was energized to get her own education.
“I had a theme that kept me motivated during my time here,” Doris remembers. "'It's my turn now.' I got the kids through what they needed so they could graduate, and then Garfield got his degree. Everyone was telling me I had a knack for teaching and needed to go for education. The choice was simple.”
Despite being four years apart, Doris and Garfield shared some of the same professors, the same classes and the same notes as they helped each other complete their education. And when Doris earned her B.S. in education, becoming the final member of her family to graduate, the emotions were overwhelming.
“Our sons were so happy and proud and so supportive,” Doris says. “And I was proud of myself, knowing I was able to get my degree, something I never imagined, and bring home that diploma with my name on it. It’s just indescribable.”
“You always want to be the first in your family to get that degree,” Garfield smiles. “We just so happened to do it backwards.”
— Marilee Gallagher ’14