Recent TCC graduate James Etheridge loves to learn. Before Friday’s ceremony celebrating his second degree from TCC, Etheridge had already started on his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Houston.
His zeal for school is more notable because Etheridge is a 76-year-old retiree from Bell Helicopter, who was the inspiration for two of his daughters to also earn degrees from TCC this spring.
“I would watch him do his lesson. He was excited, inspired and motivated and it kind of rubbed off on me,” said his daughter, Linda Pollard, who earned a degree in office administration.
Karen Baker, his daughter who graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in Business Administration, agreed. “If he can do it, it should not be a problem for me,” said Baker, adding that her parents had always instilled the importance of learning into their eight children. Baker and Pollard extended the family’s TCC tradition. Two other sisters are TCC graduates and a brother has been an adjunct professor.
Baker remembers this tip from her Dad: “You can find jobs every single day, but you can never find one worth keeping without an education.”
Reading Sparks Early Success
His strong desire to learn to read when he could barely talk has earned George Paddock the distinction of TCC’s youngest graduate. When he turned 16 on May 16, it had already been five days since the official ceremony.
Because he learned to read so young, Paddock was able to quench his own curiosity. “When I started asking questions, my Mom would say, ‘I don’t know, but you…can get some books so you can figure it out,’” Paddock said. “Most kids can’t do that because they don’t know how to read.”
Paddock originally wanted to be heart surgeon because it required the most years in school. But that was before he realized that he didn’t have in the fine motor skills needed to perform heart surgery. He still plans to be a doctor and wants to initially continue his education at The University of Dallas.
His advice to students entering college: “You should not decide on your major before you go to college. You should go to college with an open mind. You don’t want to make a decision too early and decide something before you experience it.”
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