Hodges University

Three 'Golden Seniors' To Graduate From International College in June

Thomas Moore, Anthony Gnerre and Phyllis McGraw all share something in common: They are all over the age of 65 and will graduate from International College this June.

Moore, 68; Gnerre; 70, and McGraw, 74, are part of a growing movement of seniors age 65 and older who are debunking the traditional philosophy of a leisurely retirement and, instead, are doing something challenging to enhance their lives.

According to “The New Face of Retirement,” a national survey of Americans ages 50 to 75 – conducted by the Peter D. Hart Research Associates – 65 percent of those polled said they want to stay active, take on new challenges and begin a new chapter in life.

Senior and Aging officials applaud the growing trend.

“We strongly support the variety in seniors lives today,” said Joan Spainhower, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. “When people age in the U.S. today, they age with many options. They are living longer and healthier lives. Because of that, they can make those kinds of choices.”

Florida AARP Director Bentley Lipscomb emphasizes that it’s not only important to remain physically fit, but also mentally fit.

“Individuals who choose to pursue careers or return to school are exercising their minds, which is a critical factor in successful aging,” Lipscomb added.

These driven seniors are taking their “golden years” and turning them into golden opportunities by taking on challenges such as volunteering, starting a new career or going back to college to finish a degree program or earn a first-time degree.

When Moore learned International College offered a bachelor’s degree in management with a concentration in construction management, he jumped at the chance to complete a life-long goal.

The construction management program at International College has helped Moore in his career as a real estate broker in Naples. He specializes in commercial and industrial real estate.

“I felt I could achieve two objectives. I could finally earn a degree, and I’d be better prepared to do my job,” Moore said, adding that his courses have given him more confidence. “I wanted to be able to say I was qualified to do my job not only through experience but through education as well.”

When Gnerre retired in 1984 at the age of 51 and moved to Naples with his wife, he had every intention of embracing the traditional retirement philosophy. Instead, within six months, he bought two businesses. One he has since sold. The other, “Plastic Specialties,” he runs with his son.

Still seeking another challenge, Gnerre enrolled at International College to pursue the construction management program. He never once worried that his age would slow him down.

“I wasn’t intimidated. It took getting used to at first, but once I got into it, it was fun,” he said, admitting he had to curtail some of his social life in order to stay on a strict study schedule. “I learned a lot. Earning my degree gives me a sense of accomplishment. It’s something I should have done 40 years ago.”

Moore and Gnerre will both receive bachelor’s degrees in management with a concentration in construction management.

McGraw, of Naples, decided to return to college when she realized her memory wasn’t as sharp as it once was. To keep her brain active, she enrolled at International College. She will receive an associate degree in computer information technology.

“No one seems to pay attention to my age,” McGraw said while rolling her books and briefcase on a cart. “Students and professors are always willing to help. In fact, they say I serve as a good example.”

All say they had the support of their family and are looking forward to graduation in June. While none of International College’s “golden grads” could pinpoint why this phenomenon is occurring, Moore shared his own feelings on the subject.

“I feel there is more to life than sitting back and taking it easy. I love the new accomplishments and challenges and love my profession,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
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