Central Texas retired military veteran doesn’t let age stop his love of learning

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 6:42 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2022 at 6:57 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A retired military Colonel has just earned his 11th college degree at the age of 74 and is currently working on two more saying he has no plans to retire from the classroom anytime soon.

Col. Ed Brown, of Waco, says he’s fully retired after a 50-year stint in the Air Force but he loves learning and over the last half century he’s proven that by taking classes in everything from music, law and the bible to computer information systems cybersecurity, teaching and robotics.

“I love learning about learning,” Brown said.  “You learn something you didn’t know, and you say ‘well had I not gone to school, or had I not taken that course, I wouldn’t know anything about that subject but now I do.”

Brown started in the Airforce in 1972 and was a fighter pilot for 25 years before moving over to civil service for the next 25 years.

While in the Air Force, Brown completed 19 different diploma-granting programs-most of them specific to training for a new aircraft system.

He also completed Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College in 1985.

He earned his first college degree in 1969, an Associate of Arts in Radio Television at Ohio University and that would be just the beginning.

In 1971, Brown received a Bachelor of Science in Communication followed by a Master of Arts in Broadcast Management and a Master of Science in Journalism/Public Relations, both at Ohio University in 1972.

Brown with former Vice President Dick Chaney
Brown with former Vice President Dick Chaney(Courtesy)

Brown enjoyed an extremely decorated military career, which included a deployment during the Gulf War.

When Brown retired from service, he returned to school and said coming back after a five decades long break wasn’t as challenging as it sounds.

Technology has definitely changed but the grading process, he says, is much more favorable to students.

“I think it’s easier and I’ve talked to a lot of people about how it used to be in the old days,” Brown said. “When I went to college in the 60′s and 70′s everything was on a curve and so, if there were 10 A’s, there had to be 10 F’s, if there were five B’s there had to be five D’s.  Everything was rounded to the curve and so it was not uncommon for a C to be, no kidding, a real average. "

In 2015, Brown earned an Associate of Applied Science in Web Design and Development at Texas State Technical College in 2015; Associate of Arts in Speech at McLennan Community College in 2017 and Associate of Arts in General Studies the same year.

The next year, Brown earned his Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems and Applications degree at MCC.

Two years later, he returned for an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking and Systems Administration followed by an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity at TSTC.

Brown’s latest graduation came earlier this month when he crossed the stage for an Associate of Arts in Teaching at MCC.

Brown said he’s dove into subjects he’d never had an interest in before like music and found an appreciation from an academic side.

“I used to avoid subjects I didn’t know or didn’t understand or was afraid of and now I move toward them because I learn something new that I didn’t know,” Brown said.  “I recently took an astronomy course which is not related to anything, but I thought that be a fun course to take.”

The retired pilot says fellow classmates  have welcomed him despite the age gap.

“We make some pretty good friendships as best you can bridging that gap of I’m old enough to be their grandfather, not just their father, but their grandfather,” he joked.

Brown says he hopes his story inspires others to never stop learning while you can.

“I think the most important reason I did it was as I approached older age, I realized that my mind is going to start to slip a little bit and it was a test of how I was doing and my thought was as long as I can keep going and get good grades and pass these courses and keep up with the kids, then my mind is staying pretty sharp,” Brown said.   “And so far, I’ve done well.”

Brown is currently working on his 13th and 14th degrees.

He plans to graduate with a degree in Computer Science at Central Texas College and in Robotics and Industrial Controls at TSTC where he has a 4.0.

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