What does a former U.S. Navy aircraft repair technician, motorcycle safety trainer and truck driver have in common with a college freshman at Kettering University? They both want to pass Dr. Przyjazny's Chemistry class.
Tony Carson, while not the oldest-ever freshman to darken Kettering's door, is one of the oldest at 39. Because Kettering students rotate three months of full time academics with three months of full time co-op employment, most of the student body is under 25. Out of 2,500 undergraduate students only about 10 non-traditional students apply a year.
Carson decided to go back to school to become an engineer three years ago. Almost 21 years older than his academic peers, Carson is able to fit into the Kettering mold because he is not married and doesn't have children. "I don't have any of the responsibilities someone my age usually has," he said.
His entrance into Kettering was not without its sacrifices, however. In order to qualify for admission Carson gave up his job as a truck driver to take classes full time at Kirtland Community College in Roscommon, Mich., working only on weekends.
"My former girlfriend encouraged me to follow my dream. She really helped me get here by supporting me emotionally and financially," he said. Friends and family didn't discourage him from trying to get into Kettering, but "they were skeptical I would stick with it."
So far Carson enjoys his classes, and he landed his dream co-op assignment at his first co-op employment fair in January. An avid motorcyclist, Carson will join the Harley Davidson Motorcycle team in April.
"I never really liked Harley's much," said Carson, who owns a Honda Valkyrie, "but I saw a TV show about their new V-Rod design and how they collaborated with Porsche on a new water cooled engine. I was very impressed, and told the Harley people that. I think they were impressed I knew something about motorcycle engineering." Carson's upcoming assignment is at Harley's Product Development Center in York, Penn.
Majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Carson plans to graduate in 2007, at the age of 45.
Written by Dawn Hibbard