Not many people are 76 years old when they walk across the stage at graduation to collect their doctorates. Ned Porges’s decades-long quest to earn that degree is tied to an experience he had as a young man.
Porges was just one Boy Scout merit badge shy of Eagle Scout back in New York in 1959. When he enrolled at the University of Denver a few months after his eighteenth birthday, he contacted the Scouts to see if he could get that last badge.
“They told me I had aged out and couldn’t earn the badge,” he says. “I have regretted not getting that badge ever since.”
But that regret spurred him on to finish something else: his doctorate in higher education administration. Porges had started a doctoral degree program at the UW College of Education in 1979, then moved on to a 16-year career as department chair of hospitality and tourism management at Highline Community College. He finished his doctoral coursework, but the intervening years of work, life and four children put the dissertation on the back-burner.
Thirty-six years later, Porges re-enrolled at the UW College of Education in 2015. His research dissertation on socio-politics of travel as experiential education was approved and completed in June 2017.
Porges walked with the special purple gown and tam, a gold tassel, and the doctoral hood. He can certainly call himself a lifelong learner. And he’s finally got the diploma to prove it.