Man of many degrees getting his 10th academic credential

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PALMER, Pa. (AP) — Palmer Township resident Bob Walters has earned so many college degrees he couldn't hang them all on one wall.

On Thursday Walters, 64, was scheduled to graduate with his 10th credential from Northampton Community College.

But the retired nurse is far from finished with his schooling.

He's been admitted to Moravian College's master's of business administration program.

In addition to his 10 NCC degrees or certificates, Walters has earned a bachelor's of psychology and chemistry from Moravian, a master's in special education from Millersville University and a law degree from Widener University.

He doesn't earn the degrees for recognition or a pay boost. He doesn't plan to even participate in Thursday evening's commencement festivities at NCC. The college is set to graduate more than 840 students.

"I enjoy intellectual stimulation," Walters said, adding many folks don't understand his motivation. "That is really sort of my hobby, taking courses. People ask me how I have the time for it."

Years ago, Walters read a study that equated time spent in front of the television with life satisfaction: the more time in front of the tube, the less satisfied people reported being.

"I decided to cut way back on television," Walters said. "I probably watch two hours of TV a week, so I have all that time to do other things. It is amazing; it frees up a lot of time."

He's fascinated by computers, electronics, technology and financial investments. His most recent degree is an associate's in computer science.

Walters recalls taking his first computer class at Moravian when there was one computer for the entire college.

"Computers have always fascinated me," he said. "It makes you feel so old. One course they said to bring in a storage device that is 60 gigabytes. When I started out, a 60-gigabyte storage device would've been as large as a refrigerator. Now, I have one that is as large as a sandwich."

Walters has never wanted to just hone in on one subject area. He thinks he'd tire of just studying one topic in-depth.

He began his career teaching special education in the Reading School District for several years. His fascination with medicine led him to earn a nursing degree from NCC in the early 1980s.

He spent much of his career as a psychiatric nurse at Allentown State Hospital, later working at Easton Hospital and then Gracedale. Throughout his adult life, Walters kept enrolling in college courses.

With all of his degrees, Walters doesn't have a "dollar of student debt."

"I'm Pennsylvania Dutch," Walters said. "We believe in saving and not taking on debt and I just paid for things piece-by-piece as I was able to do it."

His parents helped him pay for his first degree at Moravian and then he paid for all of his studies on his own.

Walters has completed an accounting certificate and associate's degrees in electronics, optoelectronics, information technology, chemical technology, electronics technology, optical electronics technology and welding.

He worked his way through undergrad as a union boiler maker and as a hobby welded race cars for clients. Now, he prefers to spend his time crafting ornamental pieces.

Walters is retired from nursing but he still does some tax preparation work, accounting and investing on the side. At most, he takes three courses a semester.

Walters is an advocate of community colleges and vocational education. The affordability of NCC has allowed him to keep expanding his horizons.

He admits not everyone would have the discipline or intellect to pursue so many degrees and certificates. But anyone could complete one program. He encourages folks to remain open to career programs.

"And doing even one of them could be a tremendous boost to your career," Walters said. "I think community colleges are a really good thing."

Walters does not make a big deal out of the number of programs he has finished at the college, so few of his classmates or professors even know.

"It is funny at community college you have a mix of people," Walters said. "I know some people that are older than I am taking courses there."

He's excited to study business analytics at Moravian, which he said offers a major tuition discount for senior citizens.

"Moravian is quite a bargain," Walters said.


Information from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times,

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SARA K. SATULLO(Easton) Express-Times


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