On the grounds of the University of Virginia, 69-year-old Jerry Reid may look like a beloved professor. But he's actually a flag-football playing, debate team arguing, cigar-smoking fraternity brother getting his undergraduate degree.
“I got to storm the court after we beat Duke right in the crush of the court,” said Reid. “I never expected that.”
Reid's love for UVa. began in 1963 after he dropped out of high school. He spent weekends partying with his pal, Billy Sturman, but never applied to college. And despite becoming a sports writer, conveyer belt salesman and even a race-car driver, Reid couldn't shake his old buddy's message to give college a try.
So in 2009, at the age of 66, he took community college classes, applied to UVa. and was accepted.
“It is my home,” explained Reid. “I felt it when I first walked on grounds. I felt a connection.”
Reid also received special permission to initiate in Chi Phi fraternity, with final approval from his wife.
Now he has a 3.5 GPA in the Interdisciplinary Studies program. And though his friend Sturman passed away in a car accident in 1984, Reid visits his memorial brick at Chi Phi often to express gratitude to his brother eternal.
“You're a good man, Billy Sturman,” said Reid. “I'm so glad you talked to me about the University and what I needed to be doing.”
Reid graduates next spring but can't bear the thought of leaving UVa. He's planning to apply to grad school, so he can stay three more years.