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Joy in Learning at 85 

Bob Weed will graduate from OSU Cascades at 85, completing a lifelong desire and fueling new interests along the way

For Bob Weed, it's a thrill to go to school at the age of 85. He's graduating this month with a Bachelor of Science in liberal studies, a program he likes because it has a little bit of everything, from computer science to art. 

After completing two years of education at Oregon State University in 1955, Weed stopped attending to pursue other interests in life that would lead to more than 60 years of building a career and life outside of academia, until his return to OSU-Cascades in January 2020. 

click to enlarge Bob Weed is living proof that it's never to late to pursue your dreams. - SUBMITTED ROBERT WEED
  • Submitted Robert Weed
  • Bob Weed is living proof that it's never to late to pursue your dreams.

Weed's lifelong interest in ham radios led him to become a radio engineer and on-air personality for much of his young life. He found the skills he built in the logistics side of the radio business made him an adept advertiser and sales manager, a role in which he blossomed for 20 years. Always willing to embrace new technology, Weed started a computer parts shipping business in the '90s, the industry where he would finish his career. 

Weed, a fifth generation Oregonian, split time between Central Oregon in the summer and in Arizona and California for winter until he and his wife left the migratory lifestyle in favor of establishing permanent roots. The couple found themselves in Bend when the OSU-Cascades Campus began construction, which refueled a desire that Weed had been harboring for decades. 

"Lo and behold, they're building a campus. And I said, 'if I'm ever going to do it, this is the time.' So I decided to go back to school and get my degree," Weed said about his permanent return to Central Oregon. 

It hasn't always been a smooth process, going back to school in his 80s. For one, Weed began school a short time before campuses nationwide shut down and go virtual because of COVID-19. 

"The technology is incredibly different. And that's one of the most difficult things I had to do when I came back to school... Canvas [the online platform where teachers upload lesson plans and learning material] was a whole different thing. I had difficulty finding it, and I still do because every teacher has a different plan," said Weed. 

Although he has made meaningful connections with his professors, advising staff and a handful of students, social barriers exist as well. 

"It's hard to develop a meaningful relationship with a 20-year-old student... It's difficult for me to keep up with the pace of the speed people talk and bounce ideas off and so forth." 

Despite these challenges, Weed found ways to carve out success and find a meaningful experience. 

"A lot of people don't use all the resources that are available. That's one of the things that made me successful." 

Taking advantage of tutoring and advising resources has helped Weed get a major GPA of 3.4. He entered school with a GPA of 2.4. He credits the grade improvement to the fact that he finds more interest in the subjects he is studying, along with a rigorous personal drive. 

"Before I was going to school because I was supposed to go to school. The difference between then and now is significant... I decided that I could really do this and I kind of really dug in." 

Among new interests Weed has developed is an interest in environmental issues and local issues such as housing and food insecurity. Weed believes that as he settles into life outside of school, the education he received the past two years will make him a better participant in the volunteer and social activities he enjoyed prior. 

What is he most looking forward to after graduation?

"The ability to not have to do homework... I have homework all the time." 

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