May 18-24, 2001
Back Issues
Waters' mission runs deep
Two graduates honored for their service to humanity
Student aids the homeless

Mellon winner redefines "Jim Crow" era

Pre-med student shares his passion for music
Fast-track grad driven to help his family
Student leads effort to install Braille on Lawn room doors
Creative recycling: Students convert crate into studio
Lawson lives richly
Can you go home again? Issues facing international students
Education delayed but not denied
Weaver finds election laws discriminatory
Quilter gets A+
Students to go abroad on Fulbright scholarships
Weddle will research Peruvian women
Graduate rich in lessons learned
Anthony defender of public good
Affinnih plays her cards strategically
After earning degree in two years, graduate going for two more
Student develops new sign language system
Student trio pushes for late-night joe

Graduate rich in lessons learned

Andrew Todd Rich
Stephanie Gross
Andrew Todd Rich, right, sought the advice of Arts & Sciences Associate Dean Gordon Stewart when he decided to return to school and complete his degree.

Staff Report

If U.Va. gave degrees in perseverance, Andrew Todd Rich would receive one magna cum laude. But he is plenty satisfied with the B.A. in government and foreign affairs he’ll receive on May 20.

Rich 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 didn’t learn in high school, such as writing, taking notes and developing study skills,” he said.

Rich, 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 couldn’t maintain his grades.

In 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.

After 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.’”

Rich took Stewart’s counsel over the next few years and developed a love of learning on his own. “Although I wasn’t 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 books.”
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.

A big obstacle to completing a degree was completing the foreign-language requirement, since he’d never earned above “D’s” in the past. He enrolled in U.Va.’s summer foreign language institute. The Italian classes met all day, five days a week over the summer.

“I worked harder for those grades than anything else,” Rich said. “I even dreamed in Italian.” He finished with four “B’s.”

After 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.

“Gordon Stewart opened the door for me to walk through in 1995, but I wasn’t ready until 1998,” Rich said. “If you’ve got the support of family and friends, it’s never too late.”


© Copyright 2001 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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