rich in lessons learned
Todd Rich, right, sought the advice of Arts & Sciences
Associate Dean Gordon Stewart when he decided to return to
school and complete his degree.
U.Va. gave degrees in perseverance, Andrew Todd Rich would receive
one magna cum laude. But he is plenty satisfied with the B.A.
and foreign affairs hell receive on May 20.
hopes to teach government in a Charlottesville-area school for
a year or two before going to law school. I want to teach
students what I didnt learn in high school, such as writing,
taking notes and developing study skills, he said.
32, entered U.Va. in 1989 as a third-year student after attending
George Mason University and Piedmont Virginia Community College.
Full-time work became a higher priority, so his grades suffered.
U.Va. placed Rich on probation and then suspended him in 1990
because he couldnt maintain his grades.
early 1991, Rich met his future wife, Jill. The two soon eloped
and the following year had their first of three sons. Supporting
a family took precedence over getting a degree.
so many false starts, Rich doubted he ever could earn a degree.
Through work, he met Hovey Dabney, former rector of U.Va.s
Board of Visitors. He suggested Rich contact Gordon Stewart, an
associate Arts & Sciences dean, for advice. Dean Stewart
urged me to straighten out my life before attempting school again.
If I returned, I needed to put my heart in school.
took Stewarts counsel over the next few years and developed
a love of learning on his own. Although I wasnt in
school, I was constantly seeking opportunities to learn. I attended
Miller Center lectures, and some of my favorite dates with my
wife were going to bookstores to find old history and philosophy
In the summer of 1998, Rich took the Philosophy of Law
class at U.Va. and got an A. He said that A
extended my line of credit, but it took more
time to commit to attending college full time.
big obstacle to completing a degree was completing the foreign-language
requirement, since hed never earned above Ds
in the past. He enrolled in U.Va.s summer foreign language
institute. The Italian classes met all day, five days a week over
worked harder for those grades than anything else, Rich
said. I even dreamed in Italian. He finished with
that success, his family pushed him to seek financial aid and
attend U.Va. full time. Rich did just that. He hopes to finish
with a 3.0-plus GPA. Wife, children, parents and in-laws will
be there when Rich gets his degree.
Stewart opened the door for me to walk through in 1995, but I
wasnt ready until 1998, Rich said. If youve
got the support of family and friends, its never too late.