Meet UF’s most senior member of the Class of 2022 | Local News

At 6 feet, 5 inches, Charles Roberson could not hide in the crowd of graduating students from the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business this spring.

His age also made him stand out.

At 79 years old, Roberson was the oldest graduate of the university’s spring 2022 class. He graduated with a Master of Science in entrepreneurship from the Warrington College of Business on April 29 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville. His wife, Donna Gaines-Roberson, and one of his grandchildren attended.

The Village of Collier resident was already a UF alumnus and a member of the school’s alumni association. In 1973, he received a Bachelor of Science in computer sciences at UF.

Roberson made the decision to go back to school because of the business he formed in 2001. It used game-wide technology to develop programs to train operators to use equipment, such as a rotary tablet press. But 15 years later, it failed.

“I had to really understand and get my hands around why it failed because I had a lot of people that were very good people [who] I lost money for them, and … that does not give me a very good feeling, ”Roberson said.

While getting his master’s, he learned he was focusing more on the technology aspects instead of focusing on how to successfully run a business.Roberson started his master’s program in September 2020 and took classes online. He traveled to the University of Florida campus occasionally for meetings with teachers.

“I wanted to develop relationships with professors,” Roberson said. “It is very difficult to develop relationships with professors on Zoom calls. I grew up in the world of handshakes and meetings with people, and I know the world has transitioned now to electronic communications, but I like the face-to-face world. ”

Alex Settles, a clinical associate professor at the Warrington College of Business, was one of the teachers Roberson met with

several times.

Settles taught three of the classes Roberson took, including an entrepreneurship creativity class, which Roberson enjoyed because he felt he learned a lot.

“He was a very engaged student, very interested in the work,” Settles said. “He was very active.”

Roberson’s previous experience in the business world was beneficial to the other students in Settles’ classes.

“He did really want to help the younger students in the class a bit more about the practical application of material we were going over,” Settles said.

Roberson said being back in school was enjoyable but “frightening.” He thought some courses would be “a cakewalk,” but they proved to be

more challenging.

In some subjects he had studied decades earlier, the terminology had changed, which led to some difficulty.

“That was kind of a cold bucket of water for me,” Roberson said.

But he felt good finishing his degree and getting to walk across the stage at the O’Connell Center in front of his family. “There was pride in finishing something because whenever you finish something you feel this tiny little bit of euphoria,” he said. .

College students older than 55 are uncommon, but Roberson is proof people can continue learning at any age.

“We create our own limitations,” he said.

About 0.2% of the college population are students who are 55 and older, according to data released in 2022 from Education Data Initiative. A majority of students enrolled in college are between the ages of 18

to 24.

Although Roberson now has a master’s degree under his belt, he’s not sure he’s finished with college.

He thought about the possibility of teaching at the college level. He also is considering re-enrolling at UF and pursuing a Master of Arts in religion at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or a Master of Science in industrial and systems engineering at the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. “Why do you stop learning? ” Roberson said. “I do not want to stop learning. I’m having too much fun. ”

Senior Writer Summer Jarro can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5404, or [email protected]


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