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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Siers Earns Degree at SU 55 Years After First College Class

Ron Siers Sr. and Jr.
Ron Siers Sr. with Ron Siers Jr.
SALISBURY, MD---Graduating from high school in 1959, Ron Siers had two things on his mind.

“My main interests then were basketball and girls,” he said.

The former helped him land an athletics scholarship to Memphis State University … though it wasn’t enough to keep him there. In 1961, he dropped out of college and shifted his focus to his career and starting a family.

It didn’t seem like a difficult decision at the time, but as years passed, something started nagging at him: “College was the only thing I ever started that I didn’t finish.”

More than a half century later, approaching age 74, he resolved that conflict as a member of Salisbury University’s Class of 2014. Earning a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies, with honors, he joined some 619 additional graduates during SU’s 89th-year Fall Commencement at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

Employed by Perdue Farms for most of his career, Siers and his family relocated to Salisbury during a company expansion in 1985. His rekindled interest in education began with a promise to his son, Ron Jr., that he would complete his degree once the younger Siers earned his Ph.D.

“I thought I’d be dead by then,” the patriarch joked.

By the time Ron Jr. (“I still call him ‘Ronnie’; everyone else calls him ‘Dr. Siers,’”) received his doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Ron Sr. was still alive and well … through not quite sure he wanted to follow through with his promise after his first day of classes in 2009.

“I came home and told my wife, ‘That train has left the station,’” he said, adding he didn’t think he could keep up with today’s classroom technology, including online class assignments and discussions. “You know what she did? She called Ronnie.”

Together, they convinced him that he could make it.

“They were right,” he conceded, adding that SU’s faculty also provided a great deal of support.

So he continued attending classes and interacting with students who were young enough to be his grandchildren — though only two actually were. His granddaughter, Zoe, is a freshman communication arts major, while his grandson, Rex, is a sophomore studying business.

In fact, SU has become a tradition for the Siers family. Ron Jr. not only earned his B.A. in social sciences and physical education-secondary education, but also his M.Ed. from SU and serves as the chair of its Education Specialties Department. His wife (Ron Sr.’s daughter-in-law), Stacie, also received two degrees from SU and worked as the department’s Professional Development Schools coordinator.

If he had to do it over again, Ron Sr. isn’t sure he’d change a thing: “If I had chosen a different path in 1961, I wouldn’t have the wonderful family I have now, and we wouldn’t be in Salisbury, which we love.”

It’s a philosophy he hopes his fellow graduates, many about to embark on their own paths, take to heart.

“Live in the moment,” he said. “Realize where you are in your life, and don’t think you can’t accomplish something if you really want to. With dedication and support, you can do it. I’m a living example of that.”

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at www.salisbury.edu.


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