Robert Mathews started taking music classes with iconic WCC instructor Dr. Morris J. Lawrence in the early 1970s. Nearly 50 years later, he’s still taking music classes … now in the Morris Lawrence Building.
Upon completion of an associate degree in Occupational Studies earlier this year, the 73-year-old Ypsilanti resident earned the distinction of being the oldest graduate in the college’s 2019 class.
Mathews, a bass-playing blues musician who records himself on a reel-to-reel tape deck in his basement, is learning to operate the latest in digital equipment in an Audio Recording Technology class. “My old stuff is breaking down and I can’t fix it fast enough,” he says.
He did, however, learn to fix plenty of things during his time at WCC. Back in May 2006, Mathews earned a certificate in Power Equipment Technology.
The Vietnam-era veteran worked as a machinist, truck driver and housing inspector, but has been self-employed since the 1980s, doing roofing and other odd jobs. Whenever he had extra time, or desired an additional skill, he’d return to WCC.
“I just wanted to learn what I wanted to learn, and then one day I woke up and I had a certificate,” Mathews says. “At some point over the last few years, an advisor showed me that I only needed a few general education classes to earn my associate degree, so I figured I might as well wrap that up, too.
“Now, I guess, everything after this will just be back to doing what I want to do.”